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Morning Brief: Is the flu letting up?

Top Story Mexico’s health secretary sounded an optimistic note on Thursday, saying that new cases of the swine flu virus are leveling off, but the World Health Organization says it’s too early to see that the worst is over as the number of confirmed infections worldwide jumped to 331. Analysis of the H1N1 virus suggests ...

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A couple of tourist sunbathe wearing surgical masks to avoid contagion by the Influenza A (H1N1) (swine flu virus) in Acapulco, Mexico, on April 30, 2009. The World Health Organisation said on Thursday there was no reason to raise a pandemic flu alert to the highest level as the epidemic remained steady. But WHO acting Assistant Director General Keiji Fukuda added a note of caution about developments in the southern hemisphere, which is entering into the flu-prone winter season. AFP PHOTO/ Claudio Vargas (Photo credit should read CLAUDIO VARGAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Top Story

Mexico's health secretary sounded an optimistic note on Thursday, saying that new cases of the swine flu virus are leveling off, but the World Health Organization says it's too early to see that the worst is over as the number of confirmed infections worldwide jumped to 331. Analysis of the H1N1 virus suggests that it is a relatively mild strain that would have to mutate to cause the mass deaths that many had feared.

Mexico has begun a five-day shutdown of much of its economy in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The country's chief epidemiologist accused the WHO of being slow to react to early warnings, allowing the flu to spread.

Top Story

Mexico’s health secretary sounded an optimistic note on Thursday, saying that new cases of the swine flu virus are leveling off, but the World Health Organization says it’s too early to see that the worst is over as the number of confirmed infections worldwide jumped to 331. Analysis of the H1N1 virus suggests that it is a relatively mild strain that would have to mutate to cause the mass deaths that many had feared.

Mexico has begun a five-day shutdown of much of its economy in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The country’s chief epidemiologist accused the WHO of being slow to react to early warnings, allowing the flu to spread.

The virus continues to spread throughout the United States. A federal agent who traveled to Mexico was infected as well. 

Americas

  • U.S. Supreme Court justice David Souter is likely to retire in June, giving President Barack Obama his first chance to nominate a judge to the court.
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that 50-100 of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay cannot be released.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that Colombia’s FARC rebels are not welcome within Venezuelan territory.

Asia

Midde East

Europe

  • Five people were killed by a speeding car in an assassination attempt on the Dutch royal family.
  • Italian automaker Fiat is hoping its new partnership with the bankrupted Chrysler will allow it to expand into the U.S. market.
  • An Israeli official said that unless EU officials change their critical tone toward Israel’s new government, they will not be included in future negotiations.

Africa

  • The U.N. Security Council decided to extend the mandate for peacekeepers in Southern Sudan for another year.
  • Ethiopia has arrested 40 for plotting to assassinate senior government officials.
  • Madagascar’s new regime has charged the opposition government’s “prime minister” with threatening state security.

CLAUDIO VARGAS/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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