With 20 Sick, US Declares Swine Flu Emergency

Napolitano stresses declaration is 'standard operating procedure'
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2009 2:18 PM CDT
A masked Edison High School student who wished not to be identified leaves New York Hospital in Queens after being diagnosed with the flu, and will await test results to determine if it is swine flu.   (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
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(Newser) – The White House declared today a public health emergency to fight the spread of swine flu, the New York Times reports. With 20 confirmed infections in the US, the declaration frees up money and resources for diagnosis, prevention, and antiviral medication. “We’re preparing in an environment where we really don’t know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

Napolitano tried to tone down the threat’s scale, terming the declaration “standard operating procedure,” Politico reports. A quarter of the government’s anti-flu stockpile will be released. Swine flu has already killed 81 Mexicans and infected at least 1000 more, with Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and other countries gearing up for a fight.