Call for vigilance on swine flu symptoms

Health authorities yesterday called on all those with symptoms of swine flu to remain at home, noting that the only way to avert the spread of the H1N1 virus is for those who have contracted it to isolate themselves. «Protecting those around us from contracting the virus is more important now than ever,» Sotiris Tsiodras of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) told Kathimerini. The symptoms of H1N1, many of which resemble less-threatening forms of flu, are a high fever, sore throat, respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea and chills. According to Panos Eustathiou, a spokesperson for a committee coordinating health authorities’ response to the spread of the virus, the overwhelming majority of those who have tested positive for swine flu in Greece have only mild symptoms. According to Eustathiou, most of these cases are tourists whose numbers are rising as the summer season gets into full swing. It is unclear exactly how many cases of swine flu have been recorded in Greece, as the authorities stopped daily announcements of the rising toll after the 300 mark, saying that this tactic might have a counterproductive effect and actually discourage people from taking precautions. In a related development yesterday, the results of a report by the National School of Public Health predicted that a swine flu pandemic in Greece could cost the national economy up to 3 billion euros in healthcare costs and work absenteeism over the next year. Some 20 Greek university students who contracted swine flu while attending summer classes in the UK have been administered anti-viral drugs and are due to return home this week, officials said yesterday.