Fears over swine flu assuaged

Doctors urged people not to panic about the possible spread of swine flu in Greece, as authorities drafted extra measures to deal with tourists that may be carrying the disease. More than 500 people in Greece have contracted swine flu but only one person has had to be admitted to an intensive-care unit so far. The 33-year-old man, who has not been named, is also suffering from pneumonia but was reported yesterday to be in stable condition. The news that a person in Greece who has contracted the H1N1 virus is in serious condition has heightened fears among some Greeks about the impact of the disease. However, the Athens Medical Association (ISA) attempted to calm the public and stressed that unnecessary panic would only make the situation worse. «The ISA believes that the spread of the virus of panic and fear is likely to be more damaging to public health than swine flu itself,» the doctors’ group said in a statement. It also called on the media to maintain a responsible stance and not to feed blind panic. Authorities are bracing for more cases of the virus to be brought into Greece by some of the millions of visitors who will come to spend their vacations in the country this summer. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) yesterday issued guidelines on how the spread of the virus can be prevented on trains, ships and in hotels. KEELPNO has advised officials to set aside areas where potential sufferers can be placed in isolation. Authorities’ readiness could be put to the test in Piraeus today when the Ruby Princess cruise ship is expected to dock. Three cases of swine flu have been diagnosed on board the vessel, which is carrying some 4,500 passengers and crew.