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By Tom Rivers
London
29 April 2009

Europe continues to gear up for an anticipated increase in swine flu cases.

A handful of additional confirmed cases have been reported in Europe. Three cases in Germany and one in Austria means swine flu has spread to four European countries. And the number in Spain has doubled to four while three more people in Britain have contracted the disease bringing the total up to five.

Of the three new cases in Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told colleagues in parliament that all are doing well.

Pharmacist walks past package of anti-influenza virus medicine Tamiflu in Paderborn, Germany, 28 Apr 2009
Pharmacist walks past package of anti-influenza virus medicine Tamiflu in Paderborn, Germany, 28 Apr 2009
"All of them have traveled recently from Mexico. All of them have mild symptoms. All of them are receiving and responding well to the treatment that has been effective so far, the use of Tamiflu [anti-viral drug]," he said.

Among the three are two adults and one 12-year-old child. The school the student attends has been closed down temporarily and all of those attending have been offered anti-viral treatment.

As is the case elsewhere in Europe, airports are a major focus of attention. Mr. Brown said screening has been increased.

"We have enhanced airport checks. I also confirm that we are advising people not to travel to Mexico unless necessary," he said.

Given the increased risk, France is asking the European Union to formally suspend flights to Mexico to combat the spread of the disease. French health officials say two adults there who recently returned from Mexico are suspected of having swine flu, but that cannot be confirmed for a couple more days.

All countries are working on health contingency plans and Britain is no exception. Gordon Brown says preparation during this time is crucial.

"We have decided to build up stocks of anti-virals from 35 million to 50 million. We are ordering a great deal more face masks and we will be sending out public information to all citizens in this country and by Tuesday of next week there will be an information leaflet available for every family," he said.

The cases that have shown up in Europe have all been mild and the patients have responded well to anti-viral treatment.

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