White House Press Release: Swine Flu/Felipe Solis Followups

1. Was Felipe Solis the President’s tour guide in Mexico city, and did he die of swine flu?

No .The Mexican embassy has issued a statement clarifying that Mr. Solis’s death was not caused by swine flu.

Statement from Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy to the United States of America:

“Mr. Felipe Solís, Director of Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum died on April 23rd, a week after he welcomed Presidents Obama and Calderón

at the Museum. He died of complications of a preexisting condition and not of swine flu.”

2. Did Mexican authorities notify US officials about the swine flu issue in advance of the President’s visit?

No they did not, but we have no reason to believe they withheld any information they had at the time. White House Medical Unit staff on the ground asked Mexican health officials and US embassy medical staff about any concerns regarding infectious disease, and were informed that there were none.

3. When did the US learn about the swine flu situation in Mexico?

As John Brennan of the Homeland Security Council indicated in this afternoon’s briefing, we did not learn about the swine flu cases in Mexico until late last week.

From this afternoon’s briefing at DHS:

QUESTION: Can you tell us, Madam Secretary — and perhaps Mr. Brennan, as well — a little bit about when the United States government first became sort of fully aware of, you know, these events in Mexico and how you began to come up with your response for them? And then what about today brought on the travel alert? What changed today to bring on the travel alert?

NAPOLITANO: Sure.

John, do you want to — OK.

BRENNAN: The first instances of the influenza down in — in Mexico were the end of last week. In terms of confirmation, it was like Thursday or Friday of last week.

So the Mexican health authorities knew they had a health issue. And, therefore, they sent the samples to both the Canadian labs, as well as to the CDC. And so the confirmation that it was swine flu was last week.

But to date, at least from my perspective, the Mexican authorities have been exceptionally cooperative and forthcoming. Both Secretary Napolitano and I have spoken to the Mexican ambassador. I think there’s been very strong cooperation.

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