18 May 2009

Swine Flu Sickens 3 More in Chile, Including Children

By Nathan Gill and James Attwood
     May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Chile confirmed three new cases of swine flu, bringing the number of people known to be infected to in the country to five, health officials said today in Santiago.
     A 6-year-old child is receiving treatment at home and his Santiago school will be closed for seven days, Claudia Gonzalez, Chile’s chief epidemiologist, said today. An 8-year-old student at the same school also was confirmed with the flu known as H1N1, Cecilia Morales, acting deputy health minister, told reporters separately.
     Chile reported its first cases yesterday after two female tourists who had been on a flight from the Dominican Republic were confirmed with the flu. A third woman on the flight is hospitalized and receiving treatment, Gonzalez said today.
     “We were prepared for this to happen at some point,” Carolina Toha, the government’s spokeswoman, said today to reporters. Chile will follow the WHO’s guidelines and recommendations, she said.
     Chilean health authorities also have started preventive treatment on all other students and personnel at the San Nicolas de Myra school in the Santiago neighborhood of Las Condes. Officials are contacting other passengers on the same flight as the three women, as well as tourist groups that stayed in the same resort, Health Minister Alvaro Erazo said in comments broadcast by CNN Chile last night.
     The number infected with swine flu in the world has risen to 8,829, including 74 deaths, in 40 countries, the World Health Organization said today on its Web site. The figures do not include four of the confirmed cases in Chile.
     Health officials are trying to gauge whether swine flu is spreading widely enough for the WHO to declare the first pandemic since 1968.