Some local firms taking swine-flu precautions-WEB ONLY



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Several Indianapolis
businesses are taking steps to protect against the spread of swine flu as the
number of confirmed cases in the United States continues to rise.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention yesterday reported 403 confirmed cases across 36 states
– 124 more than were confirmed the day before. Worldwide, the number of cases
of swine flu – technically known as 2009 H1N1 virus – topped 1,500.

In Indiana,
state health officials said yesterday that 12 more cases of swine flu have been
confirmed, boosting the total number from three to 15.

 

Local corporations,
particularly those with a global presence, are restricting travel to Mexico – the
epicenter of the virus – and temporarily closing operations there. Worldwide,
they’re also screening visitors to their locations.

 

Visitors to Eli Lilly and
Co. locations, for instance, are asked whether they have traveled to Mexico in the
past three days. If so, they are turned away and told to return 72 hours later,
Lilly spokeswoman Lauren Cislak said.

 

The flu has been blamed for
30 deaths: 29 in Mexico and
one in the United States,
according to the World Health Organization.

 

New York-based Chase, the
largest bank in the Indianapolis area, and
Columbus-based Cummins Inc., are among corporations restricting travel to Mexico.

 

Chase has investment and
commercial banking operations in Mexico
City
.

Diesel engine maker Cummins has manufacturing facilities in Juarez and San Luis Potosi. The two
plants have been closed since Friday, per an order from the Mexican government
urging non-essential businesses to shut down. They were set to reopen today,
Cummins spokesman Mark Land said.

 

“We thought if we could
restrict activity for a few days, it might go a long way in helping this thing
burn itself out,” Land said.

 

Mexican officials lowered
their swine-flu alert level on Monday after declaring that the epidemic is
waning there. Still, global health officials urged countries to remain vigilant
because the outbreak’s spread around the world remains in the early stages.

 

In the United States,
Chase has increased the cleaning frequency of its branches and continually
updates employees on the severity of the situation, Chase spokeswoman Nancy
Norris said.

 

“It’s just prudent to do
that,” she said.

 

U.S. officials have concluded the virus appears to be no
more dangerous than the regular flu virus. Yet the seasonal flu results in
hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and about 35,000 fatalities each
year.

 

Clarian Health is
temporarily restricting “non-essential” patient visitors at its downtown Indianapolis hospitals – Methodist, Indiana
University and Riley Hospital
for Children.

 

In addition, Clarian is
asking families to limit the number of people accompanying patients to
emergency rooms, outpatient-surgery waiting rooms and physician offices.

 

The restriction will be
reviewed daily and lifted at the earliest appropriate time, Clarian said in a
written statement.

 

“Our highly specialized care
and unique patient population makes it important that we protect everyone from
unnecessary potential exposures to the virus,” Dr. Douglas H. Webb, Methodist’s
director of infection control, said in the statement.

 

But for Indianapolis-based
Celadon Group Inc., whose trucks travel between Mexico
and the United States,
nothing has changed, company spokesman Craig Coven said. 

 

“By and large, it’s been
business as usual,” he said.

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