Honeymooners quarantined as flu spreads in Europe

30th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Four European countries have so far confirmed swine flu cases -- Britain, Germany, Austria and Spain -- while Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland have reported suspected infections.

London -- A newlywed couple from Scotland were quarantined in their own home on Wednesday after returning from a Mexican honeymoon as the number of confirmed cases of swine flu shot up in Europe.

A 12-year-old schoolgirl was among three new cases in Britain, while Spain said the number of confirmed cases had doubled to four and the number of suspected cases under investigation rose to 59 from 32.

Germany meanwhile joined the list of nine countries definitely affected by the virus when it confirmed three cases, while a 28-year-old woman became the first confirmed case in Austria when she tested positive for the virus.

As authorities in Britain prepared to deliver leaflets about the deadly disease to every household, newly-married Pete Marshall recounted how his wife Jenny had developed a bug on their return from a dream honeymoon in Cancun.

Marshall said that he and his new wife had been told to stay in their Edinburgh home, along with a friend who was house-sitting for them, until test results come back after returning to Britain last week.

"We were feeling great on holiday," he told the Daily Record newspaper. "It was the best time of our lives."

"My wife felt ill when we got back with a kind of sickness bug and with the news this weekend, I started to get a bit worried."

Another recently married couple, Iain and Dawn Askham, are already being treated for confirmed swine flu in a Scottish hospital, after also returning from a Cancun honeymoon.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told parliament that checks were being increased at British airports and other borders, while several million face masks were being ordered for health service workers.

The affected 12-year-old girl's school was being temporarily closed and all pupils offered anti-viral treatment, said Brown, revealing two other new cases in London and Birmingham.

Four European countries have so far confirmed swine flu cases -- Britain, Germany, Austria and Spain -- while Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland have reported suspected infections.

German authorities said on Wednesday that three cases of swine flu have been confirmed -- a 22-year-old woman was in a Hamburg hospital and a 37-year-old woman and a man in his thirties were in separate hospitals in Bavaria.

As a three-year-old boy became Portugal's first suspected case, two French travellers were also hospitalised with flu symptoms with what authorities described as "probable" cases of the virus after having returned from Mexico.

The French government had earlier announced that it was investigating 20 possible cases of the potentially deadly virus, and it was not immediately clear whether the sick pair form part of this number.

Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said Paris was to ask the European Union to ban flights to Mexico to protect travellers, though EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said she saw no need for travel restrictions.

Mexico and the US are so far the only nation with confirmed swine flu deaths, with eight in total although there are another 159 suspected deaths in Mexico.

In London, Brown discussed the virus with Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson, after taking part in a meeting of the government's COBRA crisis cell on the fast-moving global health scare.

The Department of Health confirmed it would send out leaflets next week containing information about swine flu and a variety of "preventative measures", and added that it was in discussions to "urgently increase current stockpiles" of surgical face masks.

In Paris, French drugs group Sanofi Pasteur said it had been approached by the World Health Organisation about developing a vaccine against swine flu, and said it had also been contacted by US and EU health and regulatory authorities.

Prashant Rao/AFP/Expatica

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