NEWS

Flu risk is played down

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday said that Greece’s first case of swine flu did not pose any threat to public health, as tests were carried out on 16 friends and relatives of the 19-year-old Greek student who was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend. The minister stressed that the country was well prepared to deal with the virus, noting that several hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities had been put on standby and that specialist medical teams had been set up at major airports to detect other suspect cases. By late yesterday, tests on the relatives and friends of the 19-year-old had not revealed any indication that they had contracted the H1N1 virus. The 19-year-old was said to be in stable condition in Athens’s Sismanogleio Hospital. Speaking to Kathimerini yesterday, Sotiris Tsiodras, an expert on infectious diseases, said the chances of other passengers who had been on the same flight as the teenager being infected were «virtually nil» as the 19-year-old had manifested symptoms of the disease nearly two hours after landing and the virus has an average incubation period of three or four days. The minister himself reportedly was «advised» by health experts after it emerged that he had been on the same flight from New York to Athens last Saturday as the 19-year-old man. Three nurses at the Sismanogleio who had been involved in admitting the student to the hospital were given anti-viral drugs yesterday. Avramopoulos called for an investigation into the circumstances of the admission after the union representing the nurses lodged a complaint. Meanwhile, the City of Athens said it had launched an awareness campaign to inform some 140,000 migrants residing in the center of the capital about preventive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the potentially lethal virus. Multilingual information leaflets will be distributed and billboards put up. Athens International Radio 104.4 will broadcast informative spots in 15 languages.