NEWS

Flu tests on student’s kin negative

State health experts revealed yesterday that tests carried out on 16 relatives and friends of a 19-year-old Greek student diagnosed with swine flu did not indicate that any of them had contracted the virus. As for the 19-year-old himself, he was in «very good condition» in Athens’s Sismanogleio Hospital yesterday, doctors said. Tests carried out on 37 passengers of the New York-Athens flight on which the student had traveled last Saturday also showed no signs of the H1N1 virus, according to experts at the Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEELPNO). The passengers tested were those who had been in the seats directly in front, behind and adjacent to the 19-year-old. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who had been on the same flight, is not believed to have been sitting close enough to the teenager to have been exposed to any risk. KEELPNO experts said yesterday that if the 16 friends and relatives of the teenager, and the 37 passengers, have not developed symptoms of swine flu by the end of the week, then the immediate circle of the 19-year-old will be regarded as safe. Meanwhile in Crete, doctors said that a 30-year-old man from Hania who had recently returned to the island from a trip to Venezuela with symptoms of swine flu, had tested negative for the virus. He had a simple bacterial infection. Avramopoulos reiterated yesterday that Greece was well prepared to deal with any further suspected cases of infection. «Our country is protected,» the minister said but stressed that it was important not to become complacent. «This flu is not just going to go away, it will take a long time to battle,» he added. Ministry sources revealed yesterday that some 25,000 boxes of antiviral drugs had disappeared from pharmacy shelves in the first week that the first case of swine flu appeared in Mexico. Of these, some 5,000 boxes were returned after citizens recovered from their initial panic. Now antiviral drugs are being dispensed only from hospitals.