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Swine Flu - Change in Travel Advice

Advice to people returning to Guernsey from Swine Flu-affected areas in Mexico and the United States has been changed by the island's health authorities.

Staying off work or school for a week when returning from an affected area is no longer being recommended locally.

The decision has been taken by Director of Public Health Dr Stephen Bridgman in consultation with the Emergency Powers Advisory Group and the island's Pandemic Flu Planning Group.

Dr Bridgman said that the change in advice should not be taken as a sign of complacency and that everyone needed to stay vigilant.

'If someone has visited a high risk area where human cases of Swine Influenza have been identified, it is important that they are vigilant for any signs of illness in the seven days after they travel,' he said.

'But we are no longer recommending that people routinely need to isolate themselves from other people as long as they remain well.'

People returning from these areas who develop flu-like symptoms, including fever and high temperature above 38C, should stay at home and contact their GP for advice.

Dr Bridgman recommended the NHS Direct website to help people decide whether to contact a GP.

The decision to isolate travellers was taken in the early stages of the virus's spread worldwide in the hope that it would contain its spread if introduced into the island. Jersey also took similar measures, more stringent than the UK advice.

Guernsey agreed that people should stay at home during the period of possible incubation following reports from Mexico indicating a relatively severe infection from the new flu strain.

There have been more than 50 Swine Flu deaths worldwide, the vast majority in Mexico, and while more than 60 Swine Flu cases have been confirmed in the UK, studies on European cases have indicated that symptoms have been similar to seasonal flu and the illness appears to be relatively mild.

Dr Bridgman recommended people remember good hygiene advice. 'General infection-control practices and good respiratory and hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including swine flu,' he said.

'People should remember the advice given about good hygiene - using tissues when coughing and sneezing and disposing of them immediately, and regularly washing hands with soap to prevent the virus from spreading once cases arise in the island.'

No possible new cases of Swine Flu in the island have been tested in the past week. Five tests had been returned negative in the previous week.