Possible swine flu cases probed
The Health Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that one of three cases of suspected swine flu in Germany came back negative. But the country is prepared to handle any possible epidemic, Health Minister Ulla Schmidt said.
The suspected infections concern a couple who recently returned from vacation in Mexico. Another man who had suffered influenza symptoms was later found not to be carrying the dangerous virus. The ministry stressed that there was no danger to the wider population.
Schmidt meanwhile told daily Bild that no one could calculate the risk of a global epidemic, but that Germany is in close contact with other governments around the world in order to coordinate safety precautions.
“We are well-prepared,” Schmidt said. “Federal and state governments, doctors, hospitals and emergency workers know exactly what to do in a serious situation. There is a practiced pandemic plan that works, as adjustments in recent days have shown.”
While there is no vaccine for the swine flu that has created a global panic following more than 100 deaths in Mexico and dozens of infections in other countries, scientists are working to create one, Schmidt said.
In the case of a pandemic, Germans can protect themselves with less public contact and better hygiene, she said.
“Everyone knows that you can’t have a large event with 70,000 people when thousands could be infected that way,” she said.