2 May 2009

Hawke's Bay student may have swine flu: precautions taken

7:57 pm on 2 May 2009

A Hawke's Bay student is the latest person in the country who is suspected of having swine flu.

The Ministry of Health says the student was among a group who returned from Los Angeles on Tuesday and then travelled by bus to Hawke's Bay.

The student has tested positive for influenza A.

All 53 passengers who were on the bus with the student are being treated with Tamiflu and asked to isolate themselves at home.

That brings to 269 the number of people in isolation and being treated with Tamiflu - 119 fewer than Friday.

No evidence of swine flu spreading - ministry

The ministry says that within New Zealand there are now four confirmed cases of swine flu, 12 probable cases and 101 suspected cases.

But the ministry's national coordinator for pandemic planning, Steve Brazier, says there's no evidence of it spreading.

He says no swine flu is circulating in the community at present, but a number of people are testing positive for influenza of other kinds.

Passengers on flight NZ1 in the clear

There is no longer any official concern about passengers on flight NZ1, the flight that alerted authorities to the possible presence of swine flu in this country.

NZ1 arrived from Los Angeles at 5am last Saturday with 387 passengers on board.

Deputy director of public health Darren Hunt says most of them have either finished their course of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu or have remained symptom-free for seven days.

However, 18 of the passengers can't be traced.

Passengers on domestic flight no longer being sought

Health authorities are no longer seeking people seated near a female airline passenger who tested positive for the influenza A virus, of which swine flu is one form.

After arriving in Auckland on NZ1, the woman took flight NZ405 to Wellington last Saturday morning. Passengers seated on two rows either side of her, on both flights, were being sought at one stage, but it has been confirmed that she only has seasonal flu.

Health authorities say anyone who has arrived from the United States or Mexico in the past seven days and develops flu-like symptoms should get in touch with a health professional.

NZ swine flu samples used to develop vaccine

Scientists at the World Health Organisation laboratory in Melbourne are using samples from confirmed swine flu cases in New Zealand in the race to develop a vaccine.

The samples were taken from Rangitoto College students who were on NZ1 after a trip to Mexico.

Scientists are growing the virus by injecting it into hens' eggs.

The head of the laboratory, Anne Kelso, says the virus in the New Zealand cases is very similar to those found in California and Texas.

If the virus continues to spread globally, she says, it will be important to have samples from different areas at different times, in order to determine how it is changing.

Check travel insurance, advises council

The Insurance Council says travel insurance policies might not cover people who contract swine flu while they are overseas.

The council's chief executive, Chris Ryan, says that people who have booked trips to countries where the H1N1 virus has been confirmed need to check what cover they have before setting off.

He says the risks are greater in countries where swine flu has been identified, so travellers to such countries are unlikely to be covered.

Mr Ryan says it is up to individual insurance companies to decide whether they will provide cover for swine flu.