U.S. President Barack Obama said the swine influenza A-H1N1 has not been as virulent as feared, but he said the virus can spread easily, and there is the potential for many people to get sick from one person who has the illness.

Speaking at the White House Friday, Mr. Obama called for a "common sense" approach to preventing the spread of the virus, such as washing hands and keeping sick children at home. He said the country also needs to prepare for an even worse flu season later in the year.
Earlier Friday, Hong Kong lifted a week-long quarantine for about 300 guests and staff at a hotel where a Mexican tourist infected with the virus stayed.

In other developments, Mexico confirmed one more death from the new virus, bringing the country's death toll to 45. The United States, the only other country to have fatalities from the virus, has two confirmed deaths.

The World Health Organization said 24 countries have officially reported about 2,400 cases of the virus, with most of those infections in Mexico and the U.S. The virus has also been confirmed in Europe, Asia and Africa.  

In Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, officials said the virus was spreading more slowly, and businesses and schools that were closed for several days have re-opened.

The WHO said Mexico has reported more than 1,100 cases of the new flu. It said the U.S. has reported about 900 cases.

The acting director for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Richard Besser, said officials expect to see far more cases in the U.S., as well as more deaths.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.