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Mexico? US? Just don't go there, warns EU health chief

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Spain has confirmed one case of swine flu in the east of the country, as the European Commissioner for Health warned against unnecessary travel to the countries at the centre of the outbreak.

The warning came ahead of reports that the World Health Organisation was considering upping its alert level to an unprecedented high because of the outbreak.

Mexico has seen 103 deaths attributed to the new flu strain, while clusters of cases have been popping up across the US and Canada.

A 22-year-old Spanish student, who had just returned from Mexico, is being treated for fever and respiratory symptoms. His condition is not serious. There have been 20 total confirmed cases in five states in the US.

Two people in Scotland and one in Manchester have been confirmed as being tested for the virus, with reports claiming that another 22 are also being tested.

The EU Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou said the EU was in contact with the US and Mexico, and had called on all the appropriate authorities to consider the situation and plan a response.

In the meantime, she said, "Personally, I would try to avoid non-essential travel to the areas which are reported to be in the centre of the clusters, in order to minimise the personal risk and to reduce the potential risk to spread the infection to other people." He also said travellers should seek urgent medical help if they start showing typical flu symptoms.

Meanwhile the US State Department has stopped all but essential services at its embassy in Mexico City. Travellers to the US from Mexico are being given a card warning them of likely symptoms and to tell their doctor if they get ill. ®

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