London P&I Club has alerted its members on the Swine Flu situation. Swine Flu may not be as deadly as first appeared but responses to it will affect shipping and seafarers. The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also issued guidelines advising masters to take seafarers suspected of having contracted the disease off duty and treat them aboard ship.
THE United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) is co-ordinating the response to the potential pandemic of influenza A (H1N1), which is often referred to as “pig flu” or “swine flu”.
In addition to Mexico, where the outbreak began, cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Deaths have been confirmed in Mexico and the US. Moreover, suspected cases are being investigated in many countries including, Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa and South Korea.
The early symptoms of “swine flu” are said to be similar to the more common type of influenza (fever, head ache, chills, sore throat etc) but the WHO is concerned about the relatively high mortality rates of those infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus.
The WHO has produced the attached interim guidance on infection prevention and control, which they has emphasised may be revised as their understanding of the virus develops.