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28 Apr, 2009 06:51

Pandemic fears spread in NYC

New York schools are canceling classes after it was revealed that dozens of students have been infected with the swine flu virus that first appeared in Mexico.

St. Francis Preparatory, which is attended by 2,700 students, had to close its doors at the start of this week. The school cancelled classes after eight students tested positive for swine flu over the weekend. Up to 150 were absent last week with flu like symptoms. Reports have surfaced that some students contracted the virus while traveling to Mexico during spring break.

St. Francis Preparatory high school remains quarantined for two days and will be closed even longer if the health threat gets worse. More than two dozens students and at least one teacher are infected with the swine flu virus. Health officials say up to 100 additional cases may be confirmed in the days and weeks ahead.

Of the confirmed swine flu cases in the US, officials say at least 28 are from St. Francis Preparatory.

Over a thousand people in Mexico are suspected of being infected with the virus, leaving some Americans shaken over a possible New York outbreak.

The US government declared a public health emergency Sunday, sending out 12 million doses of federal flu fighting reserves to New York and other states.

President Barack Obama says the move was a precautionary measure, urging Americans against widespread panic.

“This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert, but it is not a cause for alarm,” said the American president.

Although the US President is reassuring the American public, bells are ringing globally since the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert level from Phase 3 to Phase 4 on Monday. The swine flu virus has crossed the Atlantic with cases confirmed in the UK and Spain.

The European Union health commissioner has advised Europeans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico and the US. UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon sees the outbreak as an emerging threat, specifically in poorer nations.

“The situation is evolving fast and constitutes a public health emergency of international concern,” Ban Ki-Moon said.

So far the New Yorkers’ reaction to the flu threat is indifferent: no face masks or hypochondria. Most of the people are soaking up the summer like temperatures.

As one man in NYC put it:

“I actually feel better living in New York City, because you’re already immune to so much, ‘cause we’re surrounded by crap all day. I feel I’m secure. I’ve got a good armor.”