Swine flu – A/H1N1 influenza: 2010 World Cup threatened?

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Has the swine flu become the number one enemy among football fans across the world? The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that it was collaborating with the South African government to find measures to deal with a possible spread of the virus during the 2010 FIFA World Cup event. Over half a million football enthusiasts are expected at the international sporting event in South Africa next year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Football Federation (FIFA) are concerned over the possibility that the World Cup, to be held in 2010 in South Africa, could be threatened by the Swine Flu.

Swine flu – A/H1N1 influenza: Symptoms and treatment

 New cases of the swine flu are recorded each day all over the world, raising serious concerns among populations. The place of origin of the virus is unknown. The World Health Organization (WHO) has released information on the symptoms and treatment of swine flu. The swine flu also known as the A(H1N1) influenza virus is new and has never before circulated among humans. The virus is not related to previous or current human seasonal influenza viruses. It is spread from person-to-person. It is transmitted as easily as the normal seasonal flu and can be passed to other people by exposure to… Read more

“WHO is in consultation with the South African government and the organising committee of the FIFA confederation 2009 and the World Cup 2010. We are working with the government to be able to best respond to any kind of public health event that could happen during large mass gatherings like the two football cups.” Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, a spokesman for the WHO Thursday told Afrik-news.com.

In an interview with Le Monde, Aphaluck Bhatiasevi further explained that the WHO is studying “the (South African) government’s projects” as well as “all measures that could be put in place to deal with outbreaks”. The World Cup will take place during the winter season (in the southern hemisphere), a favourable period for influenza epidemics.

FIFA, according to 20 minutes, a Swiss daily, Tuesday indicated that it has been in “constant consultation with the WHO for several months.” “They keep us informed of developments concerning the pandemic, not only in South Africa but wherever we organise events. For the moment it is too early to envisage a scenario or make decisions. We do not speculate on what the future holds,” the Federation said.

On the question of a possible cancellation, the Football Federation insists that the World Cup will take place as scheduled, at least for now. Any decision leading to the cancellation of the World Cup, according to Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, would be up to local authorities to make, because they will have to bear the economic and social consequences. Some 630 000 World cup tickets have already been sold.

The WHO urged football fans going to Germany for the previous World Cup in 2006 to get vaccinated against measles. This time, the organisation is even more cautious with the Swine flu. Four months after its appearance in Mexico, the swine flu has caused 816 deaths and has affected almost every country on the planet.

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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