Page last updated at 08:04 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 09:04 UK

Fans' swine flu warning dismissed

Man with hankerchief (generic)
Levels of swine flu in Wales are currently in line with winter flu

Health officials insist Wales "is safe and open for business for tourists" after Russian football fans were warned not to go to a World Cup qualifier.

The head of Russia's health agency Gennady Onishchenko advised fans not to attend next month's game in Cardiff for fear of catching the virus.

But Wales deputy chief medical officer said the risk of contracting swine flu was "extremely low".

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) also condemned the Russian advice.

Wales take on Russia in a Group Four match at the Millennium Stadium on 9 September.

So far there have been no deaths from swine flu in Wales, where the spread of the virus has been slower than in England and Scotland.

Our main message to visitors is to keep to their plans and enjoy their visit to Wales
Dr Jane Wilkinson, deputy chief medical officer for Wales

Twenty four people have been taken to hospital with the illness in Wales, and all of them later discharged.

Latest public health service reports estimate there were 127 cases of a flu-like illness diagnosed by GPs out of every 100,000 people in Wales - the equivalent of 3,810 people in Wales contacting their GPs in the last week with flu like symptoms.

However, Mr Onishchenko was quoted as saying: "We will persuade our countrymen not to go to this match in Britain."

In response, Dr Jane Wilkinson, Wales' deputy chief medical officer, said: She said: "The World Health Organisation has not supported travel or trade restrictions.

"The risk of contracting swine flu is extremely low. The levels of swine flu we are seeing in Wales are in line with what we typically experience with seasonal flu in the winter.

We don't for a moment think it will deter Russian fans from coming
Football Association of Wales spokesman

Dr Wilkinson continued: "Wales is safe and open for business for tourists. Our main message to visitors is to keep to their plans and enjoy their visit to Wales.

"We have arrangements in place in Wales to advise people, including visitors, on diagnosing and treating the condition."

She said: "Our advice to the public is to follow good respiratory and hand hygiene - in short, catch it, bin it, kill it - to help prevent the spread of influennza."

A spokesman for the FAW called the advice attributed to Onishchenko "scaremongering".

He said: "We don't for a moment think it will deter Russian fans from coming."

Wales are fourth in Group Four with nine points from seven matches. Russia are second with 15 from six, a point behind Germany.

NHS Direct can be contacted on 0845 4647.



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