Third Swine Flu Case Confirmed In Northern Ireland

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Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has announced that a third case of swine flu has been confirmed in Northern Ireland.

The third case has been confirmed in an adult male who has recently returned from New York, via London. He has been given anti-viral treatment and is at home and recovering well. The Public Health Agency has identified all close contacts, who have also received antiviral treatment as a precautionary measure and to help reduce the risk of transmission.

As with previous cases, the Public Health Agency is also contacting passengers who were sitting close to this person on the 11.00am BMI flight (BD84) from London Heathrow to Belfast City Airport on Tuesday 2 June 2009. This is a standard precautionary measure in line with current national guidance. The risk of transmission to other passengers on the flight is low.

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Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “As with our previous cases, I hope that this man makes a full recovery as soon as possible.

“I would again urge the people of Northern Ireland not to be alarmed. Given the increasing number of cases worldwide, we can probably expect to see more here. We are well prepared to deal with the emerging situation and will ensure we maintain a high state of readiness for any potential pandemic. We are continually monitoring the situation and will provide the public with the information and advice they need.”

Northern Ireland has significant stockpiles of antivirals, enough to treat 50% of the population, which is currently being increased to treat 80% of the population. An agreement to secure the production of a pre-pandemic vaccine has also been signed. This is an opportunity to secure vaccine supplies for the UK in advance of a pandemic wave. These arrangements provide the opportunity by December this year to have enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect at least half of the population from swine flu.

As part of plans for a pandemic, the Department also has sleeping contracts in place, which means that if WHO moves to Phase 6 and declares a pandemic, it will receive vaccine when it becomes available. This means that everyone in Northern Ireland will have access to two doses of pandemic vaccine, if they need them.

Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Northern Ireland’s Acting Chief Medical Officer added: “I would again ask everyone to play their part to protect and prepare themselves and their families. Simple, effective measures can help reduce the spread of flu – always use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, dispose of the tissue and then wash your hands with soap and water or sanitising gel. The message is simple, Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.

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