>DHAKA’S health minister said Thursday the government was on alert after Mexican officials confirmed one of eight people who died of swine flu there was from Bangladesh, reports AFP.
Mexico’s National Epidemiological Center said on Wednesday that the only foreign national among the dead was a Bangladeshi man who had been in the country just six months working as a street vendor.
Bangladesh’s health minister, A.F.M. Ruhal Haque, told AFP that officials in his country were working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) as officials in Mexico work to pin down the origin of the H1N1 swine flu.
“This news is with me and we are trying to confirm it with the WHO and other sources. We’re monitoring this very seriously and preparing ourselves to tackle this all the way,” Haque said, adding Bangladesh had a good stock of flu medicine.
The minister said Bangladesh was prepared for a possible swine flu outbreak because of its experience with the H5N1 bird flu virus in February 2007 when more than one million birds were slaughtered.
The WHO has raised its flu alert to phase five out of six, signalling that a pandemic is “imminent” following the swine flu outbreak that is believed to have killed more than 80 people globally.
Miguel Angel Lezana, director of Mexico’s National Epidemiological Center, said the background of the Bangladeshi man who died was being looked at for clues as to the path of the virus.
“A short time before becoming ill, he met one of his brothers who had come from Bangladesh or Pakistan — we haven’t confirmed which yet — and who spent a few days here before leaving the country,” Lezana said.
He was not able to say when that occurred, but added a search had been mounted for the brother who was suspected of being sick.