THE Balearic Health Minister, Vicenç Thomas, confirmed yesterday in Madrid that the British tourist rushed to Sont Llatzer hospital in Palma on Saturday has swine fever. He is now reported to be in a stable condition and responding to treatment.

Thomas, attending a swine fever co-ordination meeting with other regional Health Ministers, said that a case of swine fever is never confirmed publicly until his department is “100 percent sure” as is now the case after a mainland laboratory backed the initial findings. He said this policy was also behind what critics had said was a “delay” in the announcement that a 33-year-old Nigerian woman had died from the disease in Son Llatzer hospital on Thursday last week.

But Thomas called on the public to put their trust in the Spanish Health Service which is fully prepared, he claimed, to respond to the spread of the H1N1 virus. “We are all here today to agree on a uniform plan of action and to make sure there is full communication between all the regions of the country,” Thomas said. He gave assurances that strategies to protect the public will be given to both residents and tourists alike and that no group will be favoured over others. “It is a condition which the whole population has to confront together,” he added.

Thomas explained that the disease is showing a tendency to spread and must therefore be contagious but he insisted that in the majority of cases confirmed until now, symptoms were mild. “But in the event that the nature of the virus should change, we are well prepared to cope with it,” he said. “What we are doing now is observing the level at which the virus is spreading and we will then act accordingly.”