First Minister confirms swine flu patients released from hospital

First Minister Alex Salmond has confirmed to the Scottish Parliament that the couple at the centre of the swine flu outbreak have been released from hospital.

At First Minister's Questions, he confirmed that so far there are still only two confirmed cases in Scotland.

He also told the parliament in an answer to Ian McKee MSP that the couple who had been confirmed as suffering from the disease, Ian and Dawn Askham from Polmont, have now been released from Monklands Hospital in North Lanarkshire.

He said that the newlyweds were "Very well indeed."

Detailing the information to MSPs, the First Minister said that two who had close contact with the two confirmed cases have returned negative tests, there are two more close contact cases now being  tested, and one being re-tested.

As of this afternoon, a total of 28 cases are ongoing.  Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon clarified the situation, saying that since yesterday there were six outstanding cases, along with 21 new cases being examined. Of these, 19 were travel related, and two had been in contact with the two confirmed cases.

The case that yesterday was listed as a "probable" case was now re-classified as a "possible" case.

She later added that there is now one new probable case.

There have been no additional confirmed cases of swine flu in Scotland since the Askhams became the UK's first two known cases of the disease on Monday.

The pandemic alert level of the World Health Organisation (WHO) was raised on Wednesday night to phase five on a six-phase scale amid the outbreak of the virus. This indicates that the disease is able to spread easily between humans.

Human-to-human transmission has been seen in Spain and Mexico, the epicentre for the health scare. Nine countries have reported a total of 148 positive test results for the virus. The US reported its first death, a 23-month-old boy in Texas.

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns said: "Phase five intensifies activities under way in Scotland which have already been recognised by the WHO as being effective and comprehensive.

"The NHS, in partnership with other organisations such as local authorities, is already dealing vigorously with this outbreak and we are activating our plans - developed over a number of years - to protect the public."

A stockpile of anti-viral drugs had been established and Ms Sturgeon said: "We have sufficient doses available to us to treat half the population if necessary."

RESOURCES

VIDEO: First Minister's Questions: Swine Flu

World Health Organisation: Swine flu facts

World Health Organisation: Pandemic influenza phases

Swine flu - questions and answers

Swine flu - a timeline

Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl who was on the same flight from Mexico as the Askhams, has been diagnosed with swine flu. The Year 7 pupil from Paignton in Devon fell ill after returning from her holiday. Her school has been closed as a precaution. She and two adults were being treated after showing mild symptoms of the illness.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office are continuing to advise "against all but essential travel to Mexico".

A dedicated swine flu information line offering advice on the virus has been set up and will be active from later in the afternoon. Members of the public calling the NHS 24 line ( 08454 24 24 24 ) will be given the option of being put through to a dedicated team dealing with the virus.

If you or someone you know has been directly affected by the swine flu outbreak, please contact us at stvnews@stv.tv

Watch STV news at Six for a recap of the day's events - plus, read the latest updates at stv.tv.