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Swine flu: Eight suspected cases in Northern Ireland

Eight suspected cases of swine flu are now under investigation in Northern Ireland, health officials have confirmed.

The Department of Health said there are still no positive cases of the potentially deadly virus in the province, and another 18 have been found negative.

It comes as the first case of human-to-human transfer of swine flu in Britain was confirmed. NHS worker Graeme Pacitti from Falkirk, a close contact of swine flu couple Iain and Dawn Askham, is Scotland’s third victim of the virus.

Mr Pacitti tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with football team-mate Mr Askham, who fell ill after his honeymoon in Cancun.

The Department of Health in England also said a pupil in south Gloucestershire was infected.

A letter from Downend School headteacher Tamryn Savage to parents says the child is at home and well.

This brings the total in Britain to 11. A total of 642 possible cases are being investigated in the UK.

A nurse in Germany was also |diagnosed with the illness after treating a patient with the disease who had not been to Mexico.

Meanwhile Health Minister Michael McGimpsey helped to distribute leaflets at Belfast International Airport yesterday and |revealed the new swine flu helpline had received several hundred calls in Northern Ireland.

“Our main message to the public is not to be alarmed about |recent developments — but to be prepared for a potential pandemic,” he said.

“We have been planning for a situation like this for some years and are well-prepared. We will continue to make preparations to help us respond in the event of a pandemic.

“The public can be assured that we will continue to inform them with the best advice to deal with any emerging situation.”

Ballygawley GP Dr Theo Nugent said doctors will not be exposed to unnecessary risks in treating swine flu in Northern Ireland.

“We are human beings like everyone else but as professionals we have a pretty clear idea of what the disease is and how to treat it. The anti-virals do make a very significant impact in easing symptoms.

“As of a couple of hours ago we have the proper protective equipment, and, more to the point, the |information and advice on board.”

Holland and Switzerland both confirmed their first cases of swine flu yesterday, bringing the total number of countries affected around the world to 11.

There have been 248 deaths in Mexico, with 12 confirmed as due to the virus.

Belfast Telegraph