At St. Francis Preparatory School, as many as 1,000 people connected with the school had flulike symptoms after some students returned from a spring-break trip to Cancun, though only 45 cases were officially confirmed and health officials didn’t bother with testing because the symptoms were mild.
“It’s a little nerve-racking, being back in school, knowing that there was a swine flu outbreak in school,” said junior Paulina Janowiec, 17. “But it’s good to be back.”
In her remarks to the United Nations, Dr. Chan did not mention Mexico, but the emphasis on excessive measures by others may be a peace offering to the southern neighbor of the United States.
Mexico’s chief epidemiologist, Dr. Miguel Angel Lezana, recently told the Associated Press that he had reported a suspicious rash of flu infections, but the Pan American Health Organization, a regional division of the WHO, was slow to pass the information up the organizational ladder.
Dr. Lezana said the division did not share his concern with WHO authorities for two full days, instead of reporting the news immediately.
“It seems it should have been more immediate,” Dr. Lezana, director of Mexico’s National Epidemiology Center, told AP in a telephone interview.
WHO did not respond to the complaint Monday.
Dr. Chan told diplomats that a pandemic will be declared “when we see [outbreaks] in another region outside North America, showing [person-to-person] transmission.” WHO officials stressed that the scale refers to geography, not severity.
“We don’t know how long we have until we move to Phase 6,” the top of the assessment scale, Dr. Chan said. “We are not there yet.”
Phase 6 means a global pandemic - that the virus is transmitted person-to-person on at least two continents. The scale was created in 2005, after the spread of SARS and then the deadly bird flu epidemic, H5N1, which killed at least 220 people and decimated Asian poultry farms.