Europe’s first case of swine flu was diagnosed at a hospital in the Castilla-La Mancha region of central Spain.
A 23-year-old man came back from Mexico last week after a study visit and quickly fell ill. His condition is not thought to be life-threatening. Several other people are under observation. Spain’s Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said precautions were immediately taken to contain the spread of infection. “We are pioneers in Europe, because we were the first country to bring in control and protection measures at the airport,” she said. “We have put them in place, including the World Health Organisation’s own recommendations, and we are in constant contact with officials at the WHO.” The world’s airports are now the front line in the fight against the spread of swine flu. Spain is Europe’s main gateway to Central and South America. Thousands of people arrive in Madrid’s Barajas Airport from Mexico every day, but now they are wearing protective masks. “The officials asked us questions about our health and gave us a questionnaire. We told them we felt fine. We need to stay in one place and be near a phone for the next ten days so that they can locate us if they need to,” said one passenger who came through. In the first confirmed cases in Britain, Scotland’s Health Minister said two people had tested positive for the disease and were being treated under isolation at a hospital near Glasgow. “The threat to the public remains very low and the precautionary actions that we have been taking over the last two days have been extremely important in allowing us to respond appropriately and also they give us the best prospect of disrupting the spread of this virus,” Nicola Sturgeon told reporters. Suspected cases of swine flu have also been reported in France, Italy and Israel.