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Swine flu spurs kissing ban at Wacken heavy metal festival

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18:08 CEST+02:00
As the Wacken Open Air heavy metal music festival kicked off on Thursday health officials announced a ban on kissing and sharing drinks between concert-goers to prevent a potential outbreak of swine flu.

With some 75,000 visitors expected in the small town in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, medical rescue services have stockpiled anti-viral medical inventory and isolation rooms to prevent the spread of the A/H1NI virus, the health ministry in Kiel said in a statement.

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The ministry cited an increasing number of cases in the state for the “probability of a spread.” The Robert Koch Institute reported Thursday afternoon that the state had 107 confirmed cases of swine flu out of Germany's total of 5,324 – a number that jumped by almost one-fifth from the previous day's report.

Due to the “circumstances of limited hygiene,” the health ministry urged Wacken metal fans to resist “close greeting rituals” such as hugging, handshakes and kisses on the cheek. They should also not let beverages “circulate,” the statement said.

Anyone at the festival who notices flu-like symptoms was urged to visit medical personnel on site immediately.

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The kissing ban doesn't apply to everyone at the festival, daily Die Welt reported. One couple kissed after saying “I do” on stage in front of some 300 black-clad guests.

The sold-out WOA, which claims to be the largest heavy metal festival in the world, features bands such as Napalm Death and Mötorhead in this year's line-up.

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