Wednesday, 29 April 2009 12:00 AM
Tour operators have begun to cancel planned departures for Mexico as swine flu continues to spread across the country.
Thomson and First Choice, both owned by TUI Travel, and Thomas Cook have all cancelled scheduled departures for the tourist destination of Cancun for the next week.
Empty planes are also being dispatched to repatriate concerned travellers.
"While we do appreciate that this news may be a great disappointment to customers, we hope they will also understand that their health and safety is of paramount importance to Thomson and First Choice," read a statement.
The virus is thought to have killed nearly 160 people in Mexico. Cases have been reported around the world - in the UK, USA, Spain, New Zealand and Israel among others - although no deaths have been attributed to the outbreak outside of Mexico.
Foreign Office information presently advises against "all but essential travel to the region". This is in line with the European Union, which is presently advising against travel to the whole of North America.
However, the picture from the travel industry remains mixed. The majority of flag-carrier airlines - including British Airways and Iberia - are still offering flights to Mexico, leaving it to passengers to decide if travel was essential.
Outspoken head of Irish budget airline Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, also played down the danger of the virus to travellers, saying: "It is a tragedy only for people living in slums in Asia or Mexico, but will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No."
O'Leary added "a couple of Strepsils will do the job".
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is also refusing to implement travel restrictions, suggesting the virus is now too far widespread to contain.