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Tamiflu, the medicine being given to people showing symptoms of influenza A and swine flu, will be publicly available without a prescription from Friday.

The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand today said pharmacists could only sell Tamiflu to patients who displayed symptoms of influenza.

It came as the Government took steps to make swine flu a notifiable disease, giving it the power to isolate any person diagnosed with the illness.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the move means there is now a formal process for notifying health authorities of swine flu.

Fourteen cases of the strain have been confirmed in the Auckland area, while there are another 31 suspected cases throughout the country.

Officials have placed 179 people in isolation across the country.

In addition to that, 11 people on a flight that stopped off in Auckland today en route to Australia were taken to hospital, suspected of having the virus.

Five of those were in transit to Australia.

This afternoon a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico.

Associated Press said countries confirmed with the illness included Mexico (19 people), USA (66), Canada (13), Spain (2), Israel (2) and New Zealand (3).

The BBC website said the United Kingdom had two confirmed cases of swine flu and reported Germany's first confirmed case in Bavaria.

Mexican health authorities say the virus is suspected in 159 total deaths. They say it has infected over 2000 in Mexico alone.

"Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that's not information that's come from the World Health Organisation," Ms Allan told Australia's ABC Radio today.

"That figure is not a figure that's come from the World Health Organisation and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico."

Tourism impact

Prime Minister John Key today maintained New Zealand was still a safe place to travel, despite the confirmed cases of swine flu.

The Indian government has told people not to travel to New Zealand and "one or two" Japanese tourists have cancelled their trips to New Zealand.

"Also when the Sars virus came out the Japanese were particularly sensitive to those issues," Mr Key told a media conference this afternoon.

Mr Key was to meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister this evening and said the topic of swine flu "may well come up in the conversation".

"I'll just give him assurance that New Zealand is doing everything it can, that we've got a world class health system here, we've got large stocks of Tamiflu and that we're encouraging any New Zealander that shows any signs of influenza to seek the help of their doctor."

He said India was over-reacting and New Zealand remained a safe place to visit.

"Swine flu is going to be in a lot of countries around the world."

14 cases of influenza A

Twelve of New Zealand's influenza A cases are from a 25-person Rangitoto College group which returned from Mexico on Saturday.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) clinical director Julia Peters announced the new cases of influenza A at a Ministry of Health media conference in Wellington this morning.

"We've got 14 confirmed in Auckland and five suspected," she said. "The numbers are going to change – it's an evolving situation."

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Dr Peters said the latest case was a person who had been travelling in North America.

The fourteenth person was on the same Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles as the Rangitoto group.

Mr Ryall told the media conference reports had shown there are now 19 countries with suspected cases of swine flu.

"We note that in Australia there is in excess of 100 suspected cases," he said.

All those confirmed as having influenza A were being treated by regional health authorities, he said, adding that the number of cases was expected to rise.

Health officials last night announced that laboratory tests had confirmed three people had the new swine flu strain of influenza A.

Samples from 10 people from Rangitoto College with influenza A were sent to Melbourne for testing on Monday.

The Melbourne laboratory analysed the four samples which were in the best condition for testing. Of those, three were positive and one is awaiting confirmation.

At a media conference last night, director of public health Dr Mark Jacobs said: "On the basis of these results we are assuming that all of the people in the group who had tested positive for influenza have swine flu.

Mr Ryall said: "Tonight New Zealand can unfortunately confirm that students recently returned from Mexico have tested positive for swine flu ... their symptoms were mild and all are recovering. This is the pattern seen in countries outside of Mexico."

Changes to health advice

Health officials have contacted all but 18 of the 356 people on board Air New Zealand flight NZ1 from Los Angeles, which carried the Rangitoto College group.

Initially, everyone who had been in the United States or Mexico in the previous 14 days before returning home with flu-like symptoms was considered a potential case.

The 14-day figure has since been reduced to seven days, and all those singled out have been tested for influenza A and given Tamiflu.

The ministry's advice remains that anyone who has recently returned from the affected areas and has flu-like illness should phone a doctor.

Two transit passengers were this morning taken into quarantine at Auckland International Airport after being screened upon arrival from Los Angeles, on Qantas flight QF26, enroute to Sydney and Melbourne.

The two women were taken to Middlemore Hospital where they will be placed in quarantine for 24 hours.

Yesterday, airport spokeswoman Sarah Aldworth said 795 passengers on four flights from the United States went through extra processing.

Symptoms seemed mild

One of three confirmed New Zealand swine flu victims last night told the Herald he was shocked to have been diagnosed with the virus.

Rangitoto College student David Graham, 16, spoke to the Herald last night from home quarantine after it was confirmed he had swine flu.

David said he and his family had watched in bewilderment as almost every national and international news bulletin was headlined by stories about them, or relating to them.

"I just didn't feel as though the symptoms we have now would be enough for it to be swine flu. Hearing about all the people dying and being hospitalised, I just didn't feel as though I was in that league."

The family were surviving their quarantine with an email chain running between parents and students, watching movies and internet shopping for their food.

Student contact fears

Rangitoto College principal David Hodge said he was shocked at the positive swine flu test results but he did not consider the news would alarm others at the school.

However, fears were mounting yesterday, and some parents were trying to distance their children from Rangitoto College students.

Kristin School, a North Shore private school, refused to play netball against Rangitoto for fear of contracting swine flu.

The Herald was also told that parents from North Shore schools refused to send their children on the same school bus as Rangitoto students.

Mr Hodge said the five boys who had been sent home on Monday because they had played a soccer game with one of the students being treated as a "probable" swine flu case had been assessed by the public health service and deemed fit to return to school.

The quarantined students were told they could return to school tomorrow unless the test results from Melbourne suggested otherwise.

The school was last night arranging for all the quarantined students to have homework sent to them, by email, or in packages left in their letterboxes.

- With NZPA