Swine flu fears lead to OTC cancellations

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Houston — Fears brought on by the international swine flue outbreak have led to several event cancellations at the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), which is being held at Reliant Park in Houston from May 4 to May 7.

Petrobras President and CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo and several other officials from the Brazilian energy company reportedly have canceled plans to attend OTC.

PEMEX General Director Jesus Reyes Heroles has opted to stay in Mexico rather than travel to OTC, where he was scheduled to present at an industry breakfast. Heroles will stay in Mexico to direct PEMEX’s efforts related to the outbreak.

Keppel Offshore and Marine has canceled its May 5 OTC reception at the InterContinental Houston due to concerns over the flu outbreak. The Keppel event is one of the OTC’s largest receptions. The rig builder will still have a presence at the show with its booths.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has also canceled its reception, which was scheduled for May 6 at the Hotel Derek.

OTC organizers said that the event will go on as planned, but precautions will be taken to protect public health, including the provision of hand sanitizer stations throughout the exhibit halls.

As of May 1, 13 countries have officially reported 367 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, also know as swine flu. The U.S. Government has reported 141 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Mexico has reported 156 confirmed human cases of infection, including nine deaths.

Cases have also been reported in Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders, but said that it is “prudent” for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.

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