Swine flu reaches Norway, without major drama

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Norwegian health officials recorded their first cases of swine flu over the weekend, but only two cases have been confirmed and neither was serious enough to warrant a hospital stay. Treatment began immediately and precautions were taken against any threat of further infection. No dramatic measures were planned.

“It’s important to stress that (the reported cases) are mild,” state health director Bjørn-Inge Larsen told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

His colleague, Dr. Bjørn Iversen of the public health institute Folkehelseinstituttet agreed, adding that “I’m not afraid of any further infection now.” He noted, however, that health officials expect more Norwegians will fall ill later as the swine flu spreads around the world.

Both cases in Norway involved students in their 20s who had been going to school in Mexico. Both traveled back to Norway early last week, began to feel ill on Wednesday and went to the doctor. Test results released Saturday confirmed they were suffering from the swine flu known as H1N1.

Neither was admitted to hospital and instead were being treated in isolation at home in Oslo and Skien (Telemark County) with the medication Tamiflu. Both reported that they were feeling much better and Larsen said they were nearly cured. They were being kept in isolation, however, for several more days.

The UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) had recorded around 3,400 cases of swine flu in some 30 countries as of Sunday. Around a dozen of those countries are in Europe and several hundred more cases were expected in the US.

“We are trying to limit infection but this really is a mild illness, and people shouldn’t get too anxious about it,” Iversen said.

Norwegian health officials saw no need to close any schools or restaurants, like officials have done in various parts of the US, where the most cases have been reported.

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