Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 19:51 UK

Irish people tested for swine flu

laboratory test
The UN has warned the virus has the potential to become a pandemic

Four people in the Irish Republic were tested for swine flu on Monday, it has been confirmed.

Officials said a fifth sample tested for the virus, responsible for dozens of deaths in Mexico, was negative.

Professor Bill Hall, of the National Pandemic Influenza Expert Group, said the suspected cases were not very ill and had not been admitted to hospital.

The first British cases of the potentially serious flu were confirmed in Scotland also on Monday.

The results of the Irish tests are expected on Tuesday.

"Suspected cases is a clinical diagnosis," Prof Hall said.

"We receive the samples. We leave it up to the judgement of the physician or whoever is evaluating the patient to decide it was a test for this virus.

"We had one test yesterday (Sunday), which was negative and we are carrying out four tests today."

Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said they had plans in place for any eventuality.

"We can't predict exactly what we are going to see, but we are planning on the basis that we will see cases and we are planning to ensure we are ready to deal with that eventuality," he said.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) warned that many more samples will be received from GPs in the coming weeks as holidaymakers return from long-haul trips with flu-like symptoms.

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