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Johnson defends swine flu control measures

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Health secretary Alan Johnson has insisted the government is taking measures to control swine flu, as reports of seven new cases hit the headlines.

Though negotiations are under way with manufacturers to procure ‘early supplies’ of the vaccines, Mr Johnson has acknowledged it could take six months for treatment to be made available to patients.

He said that an interim phone and internet-based system had been set up to diagnose sufferers and prescribe antiviral medication.

‘We have yet to see sustained transmission within communities within the UK, that is to say a significant number of cases between people who have no obvious connection to each other.

‘The containment strategy that we have adopted, supplying antivirals as a preventative measure both to those who have developed the disease and to their close contacts, and in certain circumstances closing schools where disease can spread particularly rapidly, is effective in that it is delaying the spread of the disease and buying valuable time.’

Although preventive measures to combat swine flu are being taken before a full-blown pandemic is declared, Mr Johnson has warned that the outbreak cannot be contained for an indefinite period of time.

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