Eighth Swine Flu Case Confirmed In Northern Ireland

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Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said another case of swine flu has been confirmed in Northern Ireland. This brings the total number of cases here to eight.

The eighth case is in a female who recently returned from the USA. She has mild flu symptoms and is recovering at home. The Public Health Agency is arranging a follow-up of people who were in close contact with her since she developed symptoms.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said, "It is not surprising that other cases are beginning to emerge and I would again urge people not be alarmed. I am pleased to hear that this woman is recovering well.

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"Even though WHO have this week declared a global pandemic, I would again urge the public not to be alarmed. We have prepared for a pandemic and I am confident that we are well equipped to deal with it.

"Our containment strategy to use antivirals to slow the spread of the virus also appears to be effective, as well as reducing symptoms. But we cannot be complacent. We will continue to be vigilant to ensure we are well-placed to deal with any emerging situation."

As part of Northern Ireland's pandemic flu preparations, enough antivirals have been stockpiled to treat 50% of the population, which is currently being increased to treat 80% of the population. Antivirals will help to reduce the severity of symptoms and help make a patient less infectious. Facemasks and respirator masks have also been stockpiled for the use by health and social care staff caring for patients with pandemic flu. These stocks are also being increased.

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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