All of this followed the declaration by Mexican officials on Monday that the epidemic appeared to be waning, with no deaths linked to swine flu recorded since April 29. The country's flu alert was scaled back to allow cafes, museums and libraries to reopen this week after a five-day shutdown of nonessential businesses. Universities and high schools will reopen Thursday, and younger schoolchildren are to report back to school on May 11, the AP reported.
"The measures we have taken, and above all the public's reaction, have led to an improvement," Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference on Monday. "But I insist that the virus is still present, that we need to remain on alert, and the resumption of activities will be little by little, not all at once."
Still, officials from the World Health Organization said it was premature for countries to ease up on efforts to control the outbreak, but added that there were no imminent plans to raise the pandemic alert level. Currently, the WHO has labeled the outbreak a Phase 5 outbreak, meaning the disease is spreading throughout communities in at least two countries in one of the WHO's six regions -- in this case the United States and Mexico. To reach Phase 6, the geographic spread of the disease would have to occur in at least one other country in another region.
The WHO reported Tuesday that the disease continues to spread around the globe, with 21 countries reporting 1,490 cases.
What health experts don't know is whether the never-before-seen virus will return, perhaps in a more dangerous form, when the regular flu season begins again late this year. Because the pathogen is a genetic mix of pig, bird and human flu strains, health officials are worried that humans may have no natural immunity to it.
Besser said Monday that the CDC c
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