New swine flu cases hit Europe, Belgium sees first

14th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Ministers from the EU and the Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries met in Prague on Wednesday. They praised the ‘first positive results’ in tackling the potentially deadly virus.

Brussels -- Belgium became Wednesday the latest European country hit by swine flu as it confirmed its first case, while more people tested positive for the virus in France and Britain.

In a short statement, the Belgian health ministry gave no details of the person affected or whether he or she had recently visited Mexico, the epicentre of A(H1N1) influenza.

Belgium had reported several suspected cases since last month, but all had proved to be false alarms until now.

The Belgian authorities have said they are well-prepared to handle an outbreak. "We know what to do," Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx said last week.

In Britain, three more people tested positive for the virus, raising the country's total of confirmed cases to 71.

"The three new cases are one adult and one child from London and one child from the east of England region, all linked to previously confirmed cases," the health department said in a statement.

Laboratories are investigating 339 suspected cases in Britain, the statement said.

French health authorities confirmed one new case of swine flu, bringing the country's total to 14.

Four of the people infected had visited the United States while the rest had been to Mexico. Thirteen patients have been released from hospital.

The flu has already killed more than 60 people in the Americas, mainly in Mexico.

Ministers from the European Union and the Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries meeting in Prague on Wednesday praised the "first positive results" in tackling the potentially deadly virus.

"The EU and the Rio Group welcome the rapid, effective national and international response to the threat, which seems to lead to the first positive results," the participants agreed in an official statement.

"The virus did not have as high a mortality rate as we feared -- at very outset nobody really knew what's going to happen," said Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.

According to the latest World Health Organisation data, there have been over 5,700 confirmed A(H1N1) cases worldwide in 33 countries, not including Belgium.


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