Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu breaks out at NY high school

Cuernavaca Bishop Florencio Olvera Ochoa has appealed to Mexican Catholics to "not fall into a panic" over swine flue while 44 cases linked to a New York Catholic high school have been confirmed.

"Health is a gift of God and a task for everyone; let us take precautions, but let us not fall into a panic that aggravates the crisis," Bishop Olvera Ochoa said Sunday, Zenit reports.

Bishop Olvera Ochoa joined with other Mexican prelates to speak up about the epidemic, which might have caused as many as 152 deaths in Mexico as of today.

A statue of the Christ of Health was processed through the streets of Mexico City over the weekend, for the first time since 1850, when Mexico was facing another epidemic.

The statute has been used for processions at times when Mexico suffered droughts, epidemics or floods, and "if this is being done today it is because the [current] situation is considered very grave and worthy of the taking up again of this tradition," said Fr Hugo Valdemar, spokesman of Cardinal Norberto Rivera, archbishop primate of Mexico.

Bishops conference secretary-general, Bishop José Leopoldo González of Guadalajara, also issued a statement calling on Mexicans to follow the indications issued by the nation's health offices.

The authorities, the statement affirmed, "have announced that the situation is under control; therefore we make the invitation to take up an attitude of prevention and follow to the detail the recommendations that are periodically given."

US cases

Meanwhile, most confirmed cases in the US were in New York City, where the health commissioner said "many hundreds" of schoolchildren were ill with what was "most likely swine flu", AP reports.

The city announced 44 confirmed cases, all affiliated with St Francis Preparatory Catholic high school.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said that hundreds of St Francis Preparatory students had developed symptoms consistent with swine flu, although many hadn't been tested to confirm it.
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