On 29 April, WHO declared phase 5 of influenza pandemic alertness. This phase is characterized by large regional disease clusters in different countries. Human-to-human spread of the novel influenza virus subtype is still limited.
Tiiu Aro, Director General of the Health Protection Inspectorate says that the situation must be taken seriously, but there is no reason to panic. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) is monitoring the situation and the threat of an influenza pandemic. We work closely together with WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and we follow their recommendations and guidance”, says Aro.
“We advise everybody travelling to Mexico and the USA to observe basic hygienic rules, keep away from crowds and carefully observe their personal health status. If you have returned from travel to these regions and you have fallen ill, contact your primary care physician by phone”, says Aro.
An important preventive measure continues to be informing the population of possible risks. Airports and seaports open to international traffic display informative materials notifying returning travellers of the need to monitor their health for at least 7 days after return. If a person returning from travel develops a high fever (38°C or higher) combined with either cough, headache, sore throat or muscle pain or difficulty breathing, he/she should immediately contact his/her primary care physician by phone. The physician should also be informed about the recent travel.