Governments across North and South America have taken measures to avert a pandemic as the new swine flu virus spreads from Mexico.

UNITED STATES

.. Declared a public health emergency. President Barack Obama said it was a "precautionary tool" that would give health officials resources needed to respond quickly and effectively.

.. Advised Americans to avoid "non-essential" trips to Mexico and announced steps to release some of the U.S. stockpiles of the anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

.. Local authorities told to plan for possible school closures and anyone with symptoms was urged to stay at home.

.. Officials said they were not testing air travelers from Mexico for the virus but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was preparing a "yellow card" for travelers explaining flu symptoms and precautions to take.

.. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said it would suspend visa and nonemergency services for U.S. citizens in the city.

.. Several major U.S. airlines were allowing customers to change travel plans to Mexico without any fee or penalty.

MEXICO

.. Mexico, the center of the outbreak where up to 159 people have died, called for non-essential parts of the economy to shut down between Friday and Tuesday to help combat the outbreak. Food, medical, financial and transportation sectors will be among those not affected but the government did not make clear which parts of the economy should close down. The period includes a weekend and a public holiday Friday.

.. All schools closed until May 6.

.. Emergency decree granted the government power to isolate sick people, enter homes or workplaces and regulate air, sea and land transportation to try to stop further infection.

.. Congress met behind closed doors and lawmakers wore face masks to avoid the risk of getting and spreading flu back to their districts.

.. Mexico City authorities shut soccer stadiums, bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and even churches. Many offices told workers to stay home, but traffic remained heavy.

CUBA

.. Suspended all flights to and from Mexico for 48 hours.

CANADA

.. Advised against non-essential travel to Mexico.

.. Canadian tour operator Transat AT postponed flights to Mexico until June 1, maintained return flights until Sunday.

.. Increased surveillance for possible new cases and urged people to take precautions like frequent hand washing.

.. Government to provide extra health funding if needed, but for the time being it is just monitoring the situation.

COLOMBIA

.. Declared a disaster situation as a preventive measure to provide funds for increased monitoring of possible cases and clear the way for purchases of medicines and surgical masks.

.. Advised people to suspend trips to Mexico, California and Texas.

ECUADOR

.. Ecuador barred foreigners who have been in Mexico from arriving in the country on commercial flights and also suspended charter flights to and from Mexico.

.. Banned imports of pigs and pork products from the United States and Mexico as a precaution.

VENEZUELA

.. Recommended people avoid travel to Mexico and the United States and stepped up sanitary control at airports.

BRAZIL

.. Screening passengers on flights from the United States, Mexico and Canada for flu symptoms and placed an order for 100,000 surgical masks to be be distributed at airports. Ships are also being screened.

ARGENTINA

.. Suspended direct flights from Mexico until Monday, but maintained flights to Mexico. Installed heat sensors at the main international airport to track passengers for signs of the flu.

PERU

.. Suspended all flights to and from Mexico.

CHILE

.. Installed a fever scanner in the airport to screen passengers from Mexico and the United States and called on citizens to avoid travel to countries with a flu risk.

BOLIVIA, PANAMA, URUGUAY

.. Officials checked for people with flu symptoms arriving from Mexico and other countries including the United States where cases have been confirmed.