20090427 quarantine airport check 86233973 18
A thermographic device checks the body temperatures of travelers arriving from overseas at a quarantine station at Narita International Airport in Narita in Chiba Prefecture -- April 27, 2009 - 


Steve Chiotakis: President Barack Obama told a group of scientists just moments ago that his administration is keeping a close eye on swine flu.

President Barack Obama: We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. And this is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it's not a cause for alarm.

The president said he'll continue to update the American people on what Washington is doing in the wake of what could become a worldwide pandemic.

Obviously, swine flu is poised to infect a global economy that's already pretty sick. And the virus is already having a huge impact on travel, a lot of it centered on Mexico and North America. Here's Marketplace's Steve Henn.

Steve Henn: Richard Besser, the acting director of the CDC, said this morning the U.S. is now screening for signs of swine flu at the Mexican border.

Richard Besser: Given the reports out of Mexico, I would expect that over time we're going to see more severe disease in this country.

Europe's Health Commissioner urged Europeans to avoid traveling to the United State or Mexico.

Richard Aboulafia is an airline analyst at the Teal Group:

Richard Aboulafia: This would be a blow to traffic at a time when the industry can least afford it because of the economic downturn.

At least a half dozen airlines, including American, United, and Continental, are waiving penalties for changing flights to or from Mexico.

In Asia, passengers arriving from North America can expect to have their temperature taken before clearing customs. And Russia, Taiwan and China are all preparing to quarantine anyone with flu-like symptoms.

Andy Rothman: So they're going to be very, very careful.

Andy Rothman is a China strategist. He says after struggling to deal with the SARS epidemic a few years ago, the Chinese government isn't taking any chances.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.