Biden swine flu comments prompt clarification

Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:28am EDT

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WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would tell his family to stay out of airplanes or subways to avoid contracting swine flu, prompting his office to issue a clarification.

Asked on NBC's "Today" show what he would tell members of his family if they asked him whether they should get on a commercial airliner to Mexico in the next week, Biden said:

"I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now."

He said the problem is that "when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft."

"I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway. So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation," he said.

"If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it's a different thing," he added.

Biden's spokesperson, Elizabeth Alexander, sought to clarify Biden's remarks in a statement issued shortly after his television interview.

"The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico," she said.

"If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways. This is the advice the vice president has given family members who are traveling by commercial airline this week," Alexander said. (Reporting by Steve Holland, editing by Vicki Allen)





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