Swine flu case confirmed in Newcastle woman

SWINE flu has been confirmed for the first time in the North East.

SWINE flu has been confirmed for the first time in the North East.

The deadly disease has been found in the region, following the diagnosis of a young woman who has recently returned from Mexico.

A warning has been issued to students at Newcastle University, because the infected person lives in a student house.

The woman is not a student at the university, but lives with students.

Both residents of the house have received the antiviral Tamiflu drug.

University staff have been liaising with the Health Protection Agency and has decided not to close its doors.

However, advice has been issued about what to do if you think you may have swine flu symptoms, including calling the information line on 0800 151 3513.

The warning reads: "This person is not a Newcastle University student, or a member of staff.

"However, they are resident in a house which is shared with two Newcastle University students.

"Neither of the students concerned has so far displayed any 'flu-like symptoms. Both students have received the antiviral Tamiflu, and they and the University have been advised by the Health Protection Agency that there is no need for the students to isolate themselves from the community unless they show symptoms."

Several UK holiday operators have cancelled their flights to Mexico due to the outbreak of the swine flu virus that could have claimed over 150 lives. Newcastle Airport has called off its first flights of the summer to Cancun.

A huge stockpile of anti-flu drugs has been earmarked for the North East as world health bosses today raised the risk level. The World Health Organisation have increased the alert level from four to five – meaning humans have given each other swine flu in at least two countries.

The first Britons in Scotland who were confirmed with swine flu have been released from hospital and are "very well", according to Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond.

Iain and Dawn Askham were being treated in an isolation ward after falling ill following their honeymoon in Mexico.

News of their release came as Mr Salmond confirmed a further "probable" case of swine flu had emerged in Scotland.

There are now 27 suspected cases in Scotland where people are showing symptoms, Mr Salmond said at First Minister’s Questions.

Another 41 people - including 10 with close contacts to Iain and Dawn Askham - have so far been cleared after showing symptoms.

A Department of Health spokesperson said today: "There have been three more confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK - two in London and one in the North East.

"There are now eight confirmed cases in the UK - six in England and two in Scotland.

"The preparations we have in place and are continuing to make will help to ensure we respond well in the event of a pandemic.

"Everyone needs to play their part to protect and prepare themselves and their families.

"There are simple steps that everyone can take to help prevent catching colds and flu based on good respiratory and hand hygiene.

"Always use a tissue to catch your sneezes, throw away used tissues where germs can linger and regularly wash your hands."

There are now eight confirmed cases in the UK - six in England, and two in Scotland.

"The preparations we have in place and are continuing to make will help to ensure we respond well in the event of a pandemic."

The Health Protection Agency said 230 possible cases were under investigation across the UK.

An HPA spokesman said: "All have mild symptoms and are responding to treatment at home.

"The Health Protection Agency is working to ensure that any close contacts of the three patients are offered anti-virals as a precautionary measure.

"At this stage close contacts who should be offered anti-virals as a precautionary measure are those individuals who have been exposed to a probable or confirmed case within the previous seven days for longer than one hour and within a distance of one metre or less.

"All cases up to now have been associated with travel to Mexico."

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

There have been 168 deaths in Mexico with eight confirmed as definitely due to the virus.

The other countries affected are the US, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Israel and Austria.

Further information: If you have flu like symptoms and are concerned, stay at home, if you can go online check your symptoms on the symptom checker on www.nhs.uk or call the swine flu information line on 0800 1 513 513. If you have taken these steps and are still concerned call your GP or NHS Direct.

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