Obama 'Optimistic' as Flu Cases Rise

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2009 1:33 PM CDT
Police officers wearing masks seal off Metro Park Hotel in Hong Kong Friday.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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(Newser) – Continental Airlines said today it will begin cutting flights to Mexico on Monday because of the swine flu outbreak, the Houston Chronicle reports. The airline will cancel 180 of its 450 weekly flights and use smaller planes. As the number of confirmed cases in the US rose to 141 in 19 states, President Obama urged caution but said he's "optimistic that we're going to be able to manage this effectively," the Washington Post reports.

The H1N1 strain may "run its course like ordinary flus," he said, but the US is preparing for the worst because it could return "in a more virulent form during the actual flu season." A WHO official said the agency has confirmed 331 cases in 11 countries and predicted that developing a vaccine would take 4 to 6 months. Manufacturers will move ahead unless the virus unexpectedly peters out.