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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Swine Flu Update

We continue to work with the media and government officials to communicate the facts about the swine flu situation in a measured and responsible way. The Obama Administration continues to affirm an approach that balances concern without alarm, as are the health experts closest to the challenge.

The talking points provided yesterday continue to be appropriate to guide your comments to the media. Again, we encourage you to share them with your members.

USTravel.org now has an updated Swine Flu Resources page, which can be accessed at http://www.ustravel.org/pressmedia/swine_flu.html. In addition to the Oxford Economics assessment of the impact of the SARS scare on the Asian economy in the months following the outbreak that was provided yesterday, it also now contains an update of how other countries are responding to the situation (see attachment), as well as quotes from various health experts.

Latest Information

· World Health Organization continues to advise no restriction on travel related to the swine flu, and no closing of borders, but has raised the level of flu pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. The move signals an increased urgency for governments to implement pandemic readiness procedures.

· The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. now stands at 91, including the death of a young child in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of the confirmed cases, a majority remain associated with one high school in New York.

What Officials Are Saying

· "The things we learned when we were little -- covering a cough, frequent hand-washing -- if people do these things it will decrease the spread."
-Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC; April 29

· “To put this in perspective, on average 36,000 people die each year of the seasonal flu.”
-Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the CDC; April 29

· "The disease is not a food-borne illness."
-Rear Adm. Anne Schuchat, CDC's interim science and public health deputy director, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, affirming the disease is not spread by eating pork; April 29, 2009

· “[The federal government] is prepared to do whatever is necessary to control the impact of this virus."
-President Barack Obama, noting he has requested $1.5 billion in emergency funding to ensure adequate supplies of vaccines; April 29, 2009

· "Border controls don't work. Screening doesn't work…It became extremely clear after SARS that the efficacy of border checks far underweighed the economic disruption…So there was much more economic disruption by these measures than there was public health benefit. In public health terms, it didn't work. So we don't want to repeat something that didn't work."
-Gregory Hartl, spokesman for the World Health Organization; April 28, 2008

Stories of Interest

· Mexico City's Economy Suffers From Swine Flu
National Public Radio

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103596946

· Diseases Travel Fast, but So Do Tools To Fight Them
Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/28/AR2009042803391.html

Useful Websites

· Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/?cid=swineFlu_outbreak_001

· United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Emergency Response Network: www.sos.travel

What U.S. Travel Is Doing

· Roger Dow and other travel leaders met today with Senate Democratic leaders to discuss significant travel issues, including the emerging threat of swine flu and the need for government to strike a delicate balance of accurately and adequately informing citizens of health concerns without unduly discouraging travel and other important economic activity.

· U.S. Travel has updated the Swine Flu Resources page on its website to provide valuable information and talking points to be used when communicating about the swine flu situation. It may be accessed at http://www.ustravel.org/pressmedia/swine_flu.html.
The site includes:

o Talking points

o A statement from Roger Dow

o What medical experts are saying

o How other countries are responding

o Useful links to official government health websites

o SARS-related data

· U.S. Travel continues to stay in close contact with all relevant federal agencies and Congressional committees to offer our assistance in informing industry, travelers and international travel partners.

· DiscoverAmerica.com will provide access to consumer-friendly updates and information related to the swine flu situation.

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