Spain sees stabilisation in suspected swine flu cases

2nd May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The number of people suspected of having swine flu in Spain appears to have stabilised, Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Friday, as the figures dropped to 108 from 116 earlier in the day.

MADRID - The number of people suspected of having swine flu in Spain appears to have stabilised, Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Friday, as the figures dropped to 108 from 116 earlier in the day.

"We interpret from this figure a certain stabilisation, without letting our guard down, but there is a certain staibilisation," she told reporters after meeting regional government officials to discuss the outbreak.

The 13 people in Spain confirmed as having contracted the disease, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) is now calling influenza A(H1N1), were responding well to treatment, she added.

One of those cases was someone who had not travelled to Mexico, the apparent centre of the outbreak, which has suffered more cases and all the fatalities bar one in the US, a visiting Mexican child.

On Monday, Spain became the first country in Europe to confirm a case of swine flu when a 23-year-old man who had returned from Mexico the previous week was found to have the virus.

Since then health officials have ruled out 46 suspected cases, the minister said. They were simply other types of flu.

"It is not that it was a better or worse flu, it was just a different flu than the type that has been detected in Mexico," she said.

Spain has 10 million courses of antiviral drugs to treat the disease but only two million courses are already available in pill form.

The remaining eight million courses are in still in powder form since the effectiveness of the drug lasts longer this way.

But the health ministry on Saturday signed an agreement with Swiss drug maker Roche which will see the Swiss drug maker turn all the courses available in powder form into pills within one month, the health minister said.

The amount of anti-viral courses which Spain has, mostly Roche's Tamiflu which has shown to be effective against the flu, is of the range expected for a pandemic, she added.

"Our national health system is able to respond to any new situation, any change in the existing situation," Jimenez said.

Spain has a population of some 46 million people.

The WHO on Wednesday raised the swine flu pandemic alert level from phase four to phase five, its second-highest level, which signals that a pandemic is "imminent."

AFP / Expatica

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