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Doctors bristle over new swine flu rules

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Doctors bristle over new swine flu rules
Photo: DPA
12:35 CEST+02:00
Germany's doctors criticised new rules on Monday forcing physicians to report cases of swine flu or face sanctions by the government.

Frank Ulrich Montgomery, vice president of the German Medical Association, told the Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper: “There is no reason to burden doctors with extra duties or punishments.”

Montgomery claimed that doctors knew exactly what to do in the case of a new infection. “The Health Minister should have talked to the doctors first, instead of imposing new regulations,” Montgomery said.

The Health Ministry recently ordered the new rule, effective since Sunday, forcing doctors to report all suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu to health authorities. The Robert Koch Institute, the organisation coordinating Germany's response to the threatening pandemic, confirmed the second human-to-human infection in Germany on Saturday.

Two further cases, a married couple from Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, have since been reported. The couple, aged 53 and 57, were on the same plane, returning from Mexico, as an infected 22-year-old woman from Hamburg.

“Both have been taken ill, but are in relatively good condition,” the President of the Robert Koch Institute Jörg Hacker told reporters.

According to Hacker, it is still too early to say how long the virus-scare will last. He told broadcaster ZDF's news programme Morgenmagazin, “We have to expect more cases in Germany.” At the moment he knew of eight confirmed and ten suspected cases, he said, but added that the number of suspected cases is decreasing.

Germany has been relatively spared by the virus so far, with the few cases confirmed apparently being fairly mild. But Hacker warned: “We have to be vigilant that the virus does not alter its characteristics.”

Hacker was confident that Germany's “cautious, but determined” reaction to swine flu had been successful. He also added that there was no reason not to eat pork.

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