Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Third Northern Ireland swine flu case confirmed

A third case of swine flu has been confirmed in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said today.

A man recently back from New York was the victim. He has been given anti-virals and is at home and recovering well. All close contacts of him are also being treated.

The Public Health Agency is tracing passengers sitting close to him on a flight from London Heathrow to Belfast City Airport on Tuesday morning.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "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 enough anti-virals to treat 50% of the population and this is being increased to treat 80%.

On Tuesday a man recently returned from England was diagnosed with the illness. He had been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

The latest patient was on the 11am BMI flight from London to Belfast on Tuesday. The risk of transmission to other passengers is low.

An agreement to secure the production of a pre-pandemic vaccine has been signed. By December this year there could be enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect at least half of the population from swine flu.

If a pandemic is declared, everyone in Northern Ireland will have access to two doses of vaccine if they need them.

Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, Northern Ireland's acting chief medical officer, said: "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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