Canadian health authorities said there were no cases of swine flu in Canada, but warned Canadians to remain vigilant to avoid the spread of the disease that so far has killed at least 20 in Mexico and sickened hundreds, including eight in the United States.

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“There is no immediate threats to Canadians at this time,” Health Minister Leona Aglukkag told a press briefing.

“The Public Health Agency has advised health officials across Canada to increase their vigilance and report unusual influenza-like illnesses,” said agency head David Butler-Jones.

Aglukkag said Canada had agreed to test samples from infected people in Mexico to test them for the new multi-strain swine flu.

“Yesterday, preliminary results showed signs of human swine influenza in samples that were provided. Today, we have received further results which confirms that the virus is human swine influenza,” she added.

The World Health Organization on Friday went on high alert, dispatching top experts to the United States and Mexico amid concern that the new virus could become a global epidemic.

The WHO said Canadian laboratory testing had confirmed 18 cases of swine fever among almost 1,000 Mexicans found to have an influenza-like illness in three regions.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also said the “novel” A/H1N1 influenza identified in at least two of the recent cases by US counterparts might have a risk of developing into a pandemic-type virus.

Mexican authorities, launching a huge campaign to prevent the spread of the virus, including closing schools and urging people to avoid contact in public, said they were investigating 943 possible swine flu infections.