Netanyahu holds discussion on swine flu

PM tells Health Ministry: Buy vaccines - cost no object; woman potentially infected hospitalized.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a discussion on Thursday in order to assess the relevant bodies' readiness regarding developments on the swine flu issue. Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and other senior officials also took part in the deliberations, and after the discussion Netanyahu decided that at this stage, the Health Ministry will continue to be responsible for the issue. Also, all persons entering Israel will be asked to declare whether they were in Mexico in the past week. Those responding in the affirmative will be examined on the spot. The Health Ministry was instructed to dispatch doctors to border crossings and entry points into Israel, especially Ben-Gurion International Airport. The Health Ministry will continue to monitor examinees who were in Mexico in the past week; they will be requested to remain at home. The Health Ministry will increase medicine stocks for the disease without budgetary limitation. The vaccine-to-population ratio is to be much higher than both the global average and World Health Organization recommendations so that Israel is among the five leading countries in the world regarding the medicines-to-population ratio. Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to stop the departure of Israeli delegations to Mexico. Travel warnings calling upon Israelis to refrain from visiting Mexico at this time will be issued. The Foreign Ministry will also contact Mexican authorities and ask them not to send delegations and tourists to Israel. Relevant officials were instructed to be in continuous contact with the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt regarding cooperation on the issue. The prime minister will chair a daily meeting to monitor the containment of the disease; all relevant officials will be asked to monitor developments, be updated and prepare themselves for any additional measures as deemed necessary. The Health Ministry will also begin an information campaign to instruct the public on how to reduce the chances of becoming infected with the disease and to prevent its spread. On Thursday a 75-year-old woman was hospitalized in Laniado Hospital in Netanya when she was suspicious she might have got contaminated with the deadly flu virus. She has recently returned from a trip to Mexico.