Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Sunday, 26 April 2009 17:34 UK

Scots tourists in swine flu alert

Nicola Sturgeon: 'The patients in question are undergoing further tests'

Two people have been admitted to a Scottish hospital after returning from Mexico, where more than 80 people have died after contracting swine flu.

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the patients had both displayed mild flu-like symptoms but were not giving cause for concern.

Neither of the people involved had travelled in areas affected by swine flu outbreaks.

The Scottish Government said it was closely monitoring the situation.

It is understood the two travellers were admitted to Monklands hospital in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, after returning from Mexico on Tuesday.

Precautionary tests are being conducted on them, with further tests expected over the next few days.

Ms Sturgeon said there was "no immediate threat to public health in Scotland".

She added: "The patients have displayed mild flu-like symptoms and their current condition is not causing concern. Monitoring of those who have been in close contact with the two people is also being carried out as an additional precaution.

Monklands hospital
The patients have been admitted to Monklands hospital

"The Scottish Government, in conjunction with other administrations in the UK, are closely monitoring the situation and assessing the implications, if any, of this situation for Scotland.

"The situation is also being monitored closely and assessed by the international organisations dealing with the prevention and control of infectious diseases."

As a precaution, the Scottish Government resilience room has been opened and is working closely with London to monitor the situation, Ms Sturgeon said.

'Significant stockpiles'

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond chaired a meeting of relevant ministers and officials on Sunday, and Ms Sturgeon has spoken with UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson about the development.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said UK planning for a flu pandemic is among the most advanced in the world but we cannot afford to be complacent.

"The Scottish Government takes the threat of a flu pandemic very seriously and have been working with local responders for a number of years to ensure that Scotland is in the best possible position to manage an emergency on such a scale.

"The H1N1 swine fever virus is sensitive to the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. We have significant stockpiles for Scotland."

The WHO has warned that the new strain of the swine flu virus that has killed 81 people in Mexico could become a global pandemic.

Several other countries have reported suspected cases of infection, including eight students at a New York school who were confirmed to have swine flu.

There have been no confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK or elsewhere in Europe.

Dr Jim McMenamin, consultant epidemiologist for Health Protection Scotland, said the two patients were being treated with anti-viral medicine which would prevent the condition becoming worse.

He said: "The evidence so far from the United States and Mexico is that the anti-virals, which would normally be used for the treatment of influenza, are effective for this condition."

The doctor said: "It is early days in our investigation globally about this phenomenon of swine flu. We will be kept continually updated by the World Health Organisation.

"Currently there is a public health emergency of international concern and we in Scotland have to play our part in any potential case being rapidly identified."



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