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Daily Archives: April 29, 2009

New Zealand confirms at least three cases

Three people were confirmed as New Zealand's first swine flu cases by the government yesterday but a total of 11 are assumed to have caught the virus as the global crisis widened.
"Tonight, New Zealand can unfortunately confirm that students recently returned from Mexico have tested positive for swine flu," Health Minister Tony Ryall told a news conference.
Samples from nine students and a teacher, who had tested positive for influenza A, were tested for swine flu at a Melbourne laboratory.
An 11th person from the Auckland high school, Rangitoto College, was also reported by Auckland health authorities to have tested positive for influenza A Tuesday evening.
They were among a group of 25 people from the school who returned from Mexico on Saturday.
"On the basis of these results, we are assuming that all of the people in the group who had tested positive for influenza A have swine flu," Director of Public Health, Mark Jacobs, said in a statement.
"As a result, we are continuing with the current treatment which has been based on this assumption."
The victims were understood to be recovering at home, he added.
Jacobs said the group would continue treatment with the anti-flu medication Tamiflu and it was expected they would remain in isolation at home, completing 72 hours of treatment before being given the all clear.
The swine flu crisis widened yesterday, with at least 16 countries beyond the epicentre in Mexico reporting confirmed or suspected infections, a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a significant increase in the risk of a pandemic.
Mexico said the likely toll from the virus stood at 152, with 20 deaths confirmed to be a result of the latest strain.
The New Zealand health ministry late Tuesday revised downwards the number of further possible cases of swine flu it was investigating to 43 from 56 earlier in the day.
"They're scattered around the country. At this stage we only know they've presented with symptoms, we haven't tested them yet," said ministry emergency planning coordinator Steve Brazier
Prime Minister John Key said the decision of the WHO to raise its flu pandemic alert level from three to four did not mean a pandemic was a "foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination."
"From New Zealand's point of view I think we've got a good plan. I'm confident that we are doing everything we can."
Jacobs said New Zealanders should not worry following the positive tests.
"There is no indication it is any more or less contagious than any other form of influenza," he said.
Officials said they were still trying to contact 18 people who arrived in New Zealand on the school group's flight from Los Angeles, which carried 356 people.
Medical staff were continuing to screen passengers arriving in Auckland who had been in either Mexico or the United States but no suspected swine flu cases had so far been uncovered at the airport.

Latest snapshot

The World Health Organization puts the threat level at Phase 4 on a scale of 1-6, indicating a "significant increase in risk of a pandemic."

MEXICO: Epicentre of the current outbreak and only nation with confirmed swine flu deaths (20). Another 132 suspected deaths and 1614 suspected infections

NATIONS WITH CONFIRMED INFECTIONS: Britain 2, Canada 6 (+10-12 suspected), Israel 1 (+ 1 suspected), New Zealand 3 (+63 suspected), Spain 1 (+26 suspected), United States 44

NATIONS WITH SUSPECTED INFECTIONS: Australia 70, Chile 8, China several, Colombia 9, Denmark 5, France 1, Hong Kong 4, Ireland 3, Singapore 2, South Korea 1, Sweden 5, Switzerland 5
NATIONS WITH PARTIAL OR TOTAL BANS ON PORK IMPORTS: China, Indonesia, Lebanon, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine

NAME: Swine flu (which is different from a disease contracted only by pigs known as swine fever). Because pork is banned under Jewish law, Israel is calling it "Mexican flu."
The World Organisation for Animal Health says the virus is a mix of avian, swine and human viruses and has not been isolated in animals yet. It recommends "North American influenza".

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