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Suspected swine flu cases on the rise

More than 20 people from across Switzerland are being examined for suspected swine flu and one case could be confirmed, health authorities said on Wednesday.

This content was published on April 29, 2009 - 18:30

"One case in Geneva is still under investigation but there is a high probability that the case is positive," said Thomas Zeltner, the Federal Health Office director.

The number of suspected cases of the strain of influenza, H1N1, rose from nine to 25 between Tuesday and Wednesday and it could increase in the coming days, warned Zeltner. Those affected had recently visited Mexico.

The government announced that it had formed a national task force to advise and support the government and cantons in dealing with swine flu in Switzerland.

Headed by the secretary-general of the interior ministry, Pascal Strupler, the task force will be made up of federal and cantonal representatives and may include experts and specialist organisations.

It follows the decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise its global alert level to Phase 4, which signals that the virus has become adept at spreading among humans.

A toddler in the United States was on Wednesday the first confirmed death outside of Mexico, the outbreak's epicentre where 159 people have died. Germany and Austria also announced their first confirmed cases of swine flu, becoming the third and fourth countries in Europe to be affected.

Switzerland has set up a telephone hotline (031 322 2100) to give advice to travellers who plan to travel to the affected areas or who have just returned. There is also an internet site where people can find information (www.pandemia.ch).

swissinfo with agencies

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