Article published on the 2009-05-03 Latest update 2009-05-03 10:46 TU
France's Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin (R) and General Health Director Didier Houssin (L) at a press conference Saturday
About 1,000 travellers suffered delays on Saturday after baggage handlers working for private contractor Alyzia walked off the job, according to airport officials.
The workers refused to handle bags from a flight from the Mexican resort of Cancun and about a dozen subsequent services which arrived from Spain. Officials recognise that they were exercising a right guaranteed by French law to stay off the job if they have reason to believe that their health or life is in danger.
An Air France crew and several flight attendants have refused to board flights to Mexico since its outbreak. French authorities on Saturday announceed that they will supply face masks to all frontier police, customs and airport workers whose work brings them into contact with passengers from Mexico.
France on Saturday reported 22 possible cases, with seven "probable". Next week a better test will be distributed for diagnosing the virus. The government has officially discouraged school trips to Mexico and New York. The Health Ministry is to hold a meeting with doctors' representatives on Tuesday.
Paris health authorities on Saturday described the scale of the outbreak so far as a "commonplace phenomenon", with 16 patients who could be suffering from the virus in the city's hospitals and only two confirmed.
But Professor Daniel Vittecoq of Paul Brousse hospital said that there could be a "second wave" in the autumn and that the deaths in Mexico give rise to fears that there could be a "more serious epidemic".
The virus is weaker than bird flu, Vittecoq said, adding that media coverage may be exaggerated but "too bad if it is excessive, this is an exercise which is preparing for a pandemic".
2009-05-02 10:46 TU
2009-05-01 14:26 TU