Colombian president contracts swine flu

Bogota, Aug 31 (EFE) Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has contracted the influenza A (H1N1) , also known as swine flu, officials said Sunday.

Presidential press secretary Cesar Mauricio Velasquez read a government communique in which it was announced that Uribe has swine flu. In Bogota, officials with the National Health Institute, or INS, confirmed the diagnosis.

According to the various sources, Uribe began showing symptoms of being ill Friday when he returned from the Unasur Summit held in the Argentine city of Bariloche, but – they said – he must have become infected some days prior to that.

The symptoms worsened Saturday when Uribe headed a government community council in the eastern town of Puerto Carreno and had to get medical attention.

The progression of the disease in the president’s case is, at present, requiring treatment at home and the implementation of “clinical management protocols”, according to the information provided by the government.

The President’s Office also said in a communique read by Velasquez that it had informed “through diplomatic channels” all the officials and leaders who participated at the Union of South American Nations (or Unasur) Summit “so that they may take appropriate measures.”

It also had warned “people who have had close contact” in recent days with the president, the text of the message said.

Uribe traveled to and from the summit in the same aircraft as Foreign Relations Minister Jaime Bermudez, Defense Minister Gabriel Silva, armed forces commander Gen. Freddy Padilla, Velasquez and several journalists.

The Colombian leader Sunday was resting at his home in Llano Grande, a rural area of the municipality of Rionegro, near Medellin, his illness is “under control” and he is “being attended by experts”, Velasquez said.

The first case of swine flu was detected in Colombia May 3 and the country’s first fatality from the disease occurred June 4.

To date, 29 people have died in Colombia as a result of the AH1N1 virus, according to officials with the Social Protection Ministry and the INS.