Emergency procedures activated in light of swine flu
Israeli Independence Day plans in Mexico City canceled.
By HAVIV RETTIG GUR, JERUSALEM POST STAFF
The swine flu outbreak has led Israeli officials to implement emergency procedures for dealing with global epidemics.
In accordance with National Emergency Authority guidelines, officials from the foreign and health ministries on Sunday established a team to jointly monitor the situation in Mexico, the apparent epicenter of a worldwide outbreak that has already claimed more than 80 lives and left some 1,300 people infected.
The Foreign Ministry has not yet issued a travel advisory against travel to Mexico, spokesman Yossi Levy said on Sunday, "but we are asking Israelis traveling to Mexico to stay up to date through the Foreign Ministry's Web site."
The ministry is calling on Israelis in Mexico to avoid densely populated areas and to maintain high standards of hygiene.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Sunday with senior Defense Ministry officials regarding the swine flu global outbreak. Spokesman Shlomo Dror said that the Health Ministry was currently responsibility for the issue but that the Defense Ministry would step in if a global crisis was declared by world health authorities.
Barak ordered the ministry to review procedures for distributing vaccines and medicine to the public.
The ministry, meanwhile, has cancelled Independence Day celebrations at its embassy in Mexico City following orders by the Mexican government against large public gatherings.
A similar fate appears to be in store for celebrations by the country's Jewish community.
According to Avida Ben-Yoseph, emissary to Mexico City for the Bnei Akiva religious youth movement, authorities have closed all schools in the city for 10 days and have banned youth activities, including those of Bnei Akiva.
"Despite everything," Ben-Yoseph said, "we will at the very least conduct a festive prayer to mark Israel's 61st Independence Day."
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report
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