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Swine flu cases rise steeply

The swine flu pandemic is continuing to spread across Switzerland, according to health authorities.

"We have recorded an exponential increase in cases. The number of confirmed cases doubled over the past week," said Patrick Mathys of the Federal Health Office.

The number of people who consulted a doctor also grew and about 15 patients were taken into intensive care over the past eight days, he added.

Mathys estimates several tens of thousands of people across the country have been infected with the H1N1 influenza virus. There is also a marked increase in cases among the 0-19 age group.

"But there is no reason to panic," said Virginie Masserey of the health office on Thursday. She called on the public to follow basic hygiene rules, notably to wash hands regularly.

"We cannot stop the flu wave now, but we can try to contain it and protect risk groups," she said.

The health office said there was enough vaccine available for the chronically ill, pregnant women and medical staff.

The regulator Swissmedic is expected to approve a third vaccine next week which would allow for everyone in Switzerland to be immunised.

The government ordered 13 million doses of vaccine, but the approval and distribution was delayed because Switzerland has no formal agreement with the European Union on the transfer of medical data.

Urs Geiser,


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