Health commissioner tries to calm NYers as swine flu cases increase
Even as the number of confirmed swine flu cases climbed by five to 49 yesterday, city health officials sought to reassure jittery New Yorkers, stressing that the sick are recovering and that the viruss punch has been relatively mild.
We have not identified severe flu, said Thomas Frieden, New York City health commissioner. Up till now in New York City this virus is acting the same way seasonal flu acts.
It is unclear how long the swine flu will spread or how severely it will affect people in New York, which has more than half of the cases nationwide, Frieden said.
Were not seeing five or 10 severely ill people that could change tomorrow or the next day, he said. Only time will tell.Most of the confirmed cases are from St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where hundreds of students briefly developed mild flu symptoms, Frieden said.
Two other victims, a 19-month-old Bronx baby and a Brooklyn woman, are also recovering. The city is also investigating five more probable cases.
Frieden encouraged worried New Yorkers not to hoard anti-viral medicine, noting that some local pharmacies had run out.
He added that some suspected cases turned out to be seasonal flu, also asked people to go to the hospital only if they are ill.
Weve been dealing with a lot of rumors. What weve found, mostly, is those are rumors, he said.
Meanwhile, Good Shepherd School and St. Brigid School, both in Brooklyn, decided to close after students possibly came down with swine flu. The Health Department did not ask the schools to close but had closed St. Francis and P.S. 177, a school with ill siblings of St. Francis students.
St. Francis will remain closed until Monday while P.S. 177 will stay closed until the CDC rules on what strain the students are suffering from, Frieden said. Those results are expected by this morning.
A Manhattan school with some students being tested for swine flu remained open.