Health chiefs in the Irish Republic last night defended its decision to protect the identity of the only person in the country with swine flu.
The Republic’s Chief Medical Office maintained officials would be protecting the identity of the individual, who remains on a week’s isolation period in his home in the east of the country.
Dr Tony Holohan, of the Republic’s Department of Health and Children, has revealed UK laboratory test results confirmed a man, who recently returned from Mexico, was carrying influenza A (H1N1).
He refused to comment on suggestions the patient is in his early 20s and lives and works in Dublin, stating his privacy should be respected.
“We think it’s a very important part to ensuring, on an ongoing basis, if there are other people who suspect they themselves might have symptoms consistent with influenza H1N1 they are not discouraged from coming forward,” said Dr Holohan.
Professor Bill Hall, chair of Ireland’s National Pandemic Influenza Group, said new tests developed at the WHO central lab in London which detected the case in the Republic will be available in Dublin next week.
He added while swine flu seemed to be a mild disease outside Mexico, most cases in Europe were in young holidaymakers. “However we have to careful,” he warned.
The Republic’s Health Service Executive (HSE) revealed while more than 800 people have called its new freephone information line in the last two days, it has been in daily contact with suppliers of anti-virus medication, masks and gown.