13.53pm:

Waikato District Health Board is investigating two possible cases of swine flu.

Medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell said "tamiflu will be prescribed for probable and confirmed cases and their household contacts".

If anyone is suffering influenza-like illness and has travelled to either Mexico or America within the past two weeks, or been in contact with someone who has, they should call their general practitioner immediately, said Dr Bell.

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12.09pm:

Tests on two Australians feared to have contracted the deadly swine flu after a trip to Mexico have come back negative.

A spokesman for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh confirmed tests on the two people, one from the Gold Coast and one from Brisbane, were negative.

Earlier today, Ms Bligh told reporters in Toowoomba that doctors would be on the lookout for patients presenting with flu symptoms.

11.47am:

The Rangitoto College teacher admitted to hospital last night will be allowed home today, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

"We've just been advised that she will be sent home this afternoon, having been treated with Tamiflu," Mr Ryall said.

11.22am:

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Two people are in a Queensland, Australia hospital with flu symptoms similar to the deadly swine flu after a trip to Mexico.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the cases had not yet been confirmed and there was no need for panic.

"We do have two cases overnight of people checking into hospital whose symptoms are being tested," Ms Bligh told reporters.

"Clearly this is a very serious disease and we are taking it very seriously.

"GPs have been advised to be on the lookout for symptoms and all emergency departments were on the lookout for symptoms."

11.07am:

A small group of Northcote College students who returned to New Zealand from Mexico over the weekend are displaying

.

Principal Vicki Barrie says Auckland health officials asked three of the students to be tested for influenza, after they reported minor symptoms last night. She says the results are expected later today.

The 14 students, two parents and two teachers who travelled with the Northcote College group have been asked to stay at home while initial influenza A tests are carried out on the few exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Director of public health Mark Jacobs said if the strain was confirmed, passengers on that flight - NZ5 - would also be contacted and informed.

Meanwhile, officials issued a general plea for anyone returning from Mexico or the United States, either on NZ1 or NZ5, or any other flights, to be vigilant about seeking medical advice if they experienced symptoms.

10.18am:

Clinical director of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Julia Peters, said while the weekend focus was on managing the sick Rangitoto College students, her staff would today be following up with other passengers.

"Now that we know that this is an influenza A virus, possibly the swine flu virus, our attention will definitely be turning to all the contact tracing."

All passengers arriving in New Zealand from North America are now being screened and given information about the flu.

They are also completing passenger locator cards so they can easily be contacted if required.

"So far, touch wood, things appear to be relatively under control," said Steve Brazier, the Health Ministry's national coordinator for emergency planning.

If the situation deteriorated, the ministry would "ramp up" its response, moving from code yellow into the code red phase.

This would involve far more intensive work at border entry points, ring-fencing outbreaks within New Zealand, and continuing to treat patients with Tamiflu.

The effectiveness of Tamiflu on swine flu was not yet confirmed, but reports from Mexico indicated it was effective.

10.04am:

Multiple airlines are

for passengers flying through Mexico because of an outbreak of swine flu but have not cancelled flights.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines says it will waive its usual penalty for changing reservations for anyone travelling to, from or through Mexico until May 6. It applies to anyone who bought their ticket before Saturday.

9.34am:

A teacher who travelled to Mexico with a Rangitoto College group has been

with flu symptoms.

Another member of the group was admitted to hospital over the weekend but has now been discharged. The remaining students who are believed to have contracted swine flu are being treated in isolation at their homes.

Minister of Health Tony Ryall, Director of Public Health Dr Mark Jacobs and National Coordinator of Pandemic Planning Steve Brazier will front a media conference in Wellington at 10am to discuss the latest developments.

9.10am:

Students at Rangitoto College on Auckland's North Shore are being briefed on the situation regarding their classmates who it is believed

.

The Ministry of Health says ten students who were part of a group which had been in Mexico for Spanish studies, have tested positive for influenza A. They may have the strain of swine flu which has caused the deaths of up to 80 people in Mexico. Cases have also been reported in America and Canada, although none have been fatal. The Auckland students' medical tests have been sent to Melbourne for analysis and the results will be available later in the week.

David Hodge, the principal of Rangitoto College, says it will be business as usual at the school this morning once students have been told the facts.

"We will prepare a statement for the staff so all the students will get an official communication about what exactly the situation is."

The affected students have been quarantined at home since their arrival back in New Zealand, so there is little risk other students have contracted the flu virus.

Students from Northcote College, also on the North Shore, have also been caught up in the alert after visiting Mexico but principal Vicki Barrie says they were only in Mexico City for a day and, as far as she knows, none is showing symptoms of illness.

It has now been revealed that students from Pinehurst School, in Albany, who were originally thought to have visited Mexico, were in fact in Argentina.

The Ministry of Health had stationed doctors and nurses at Auckland International Airport this morning to screen passengers arriving on Air New Zealand flight NZ1 from Los Angeles.

Pandemic Manager, Steve Brazier, says authorities are better prepared to cope with a disease outbreak than they would have otherwise been due the scare over bird flu a few years ago. He says the country is operating on a Code Yellow alert.

Mr Brazier says the sick students are recovering and are not desperately ill, which is reassuring. He says officials are not worried, but are busy.

He says swine flu does not have the appearance of a dangerous illness for New Zealand or the United States and he hope it stays that way.

8.35am:

Britain's

Independent

is reporting that the archaeologist who showed US President Barack Obama around Mexico City's anthropology museum earlier this month, died the next day from "flu-like symptoms".

Felipe Solis met the President at a gala dinner which was held at the museum on 16 April, before Mr Obama travelled on to the Americas summit in Trinidad and Tobago.

Mexico's Health Minister confirmed that Mr Solis had died of pneumonia - but that it was not thought he had contracted swine flu.

In the US, the White House said that the President's doctors had given him an all-clear. Mr Obama showed no symptoms after the usual incubation period, his spokesman said.

6.30am:

Doctors are present at Auckland International Airport as another group of students arrive back from Mexico, the centre of the outbreak of deadly swine flu.

There is concern about two school groups from the North Shore schools of Pinehurst and Westlake Girls High School who arrive back in New Zealand this morning after spending time in Mexico.

The Ministry of Health's National Coordinator of National Planning, Steve Brazier, says doctors are on duty at Auckland International Airport for the students' arrival. Air New Zealand staff on the flight from Los Angles will read out an advisory script to passengers when they touch down and doctors will treat people who are unwell.

Health officials are also keeping an eye on 14 students and two parents from Northcote College, also on Auckland's North Shore, who arrived back from Mexico on Saturday.

Mr Brazier says the New Zealand health alert system is at Code Yellow, which means there has been a significant development in the virus overseas and isolated cases in New Zealand.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says anybody who has travelled in the affected area, or on the affected flight should get in touch with their GP if they feel sick.

Swine flu is a mix of pig, bird and human flu strains and has jumped species. The World Health Organisation says the virus has the potential to become a global pandemic.

5.00am:

US health officials say they are "very pessimistic" that the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the unique swine flu infecting people in the United States, Mexico and Canada so far.

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said yesterday afternoon that tests of the seasonal vaccine and the new virus show no cross-reaction, suggesting that people who got the vaccine have no added protection against the new bug.

It's possible that people who have been exposed to flu viruses every year - especially older people, with a greater exposure history - may have some natural immunity, the CDC official said in a call with reporters.

SUNDAY, APRIL 26:

First NZ cases suspected:

Ten Rangitoto College students tested positive for influenza A after they came down with mild flu symptoms on returning to New Zealand on Saturday.

Their tests will be sent to the World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory in Melbourne for further testing to confirm whether it is actually swine flu.

It could take days for the results to be returned but Health Minister Tony Ryall said it was "highly likely" to be swine flu.

Mexican officials have put the death toll from the new flu strain at 81 and 1300 sick, while 10 people were believed infected in the United States and there were two possible cases in France.

The WHO warned on Saturday that the virus had the potential to become a pandemic, labelling the current outbreak "a public health emergency of international concern".

Three other New Zealand school groups have been in Mexico.

A group from Northcote College had already arrived in Auckland and two more, from Pinehurst and Westlake Girls High Schools, were yet to return home. Their conditions were unknown.

The Rangitoto College group, three teachers and 22 students, returned to Auckland on Air New Zealand flight NZ1 from Los Angeles on Saturday morning.

All students from the Rangitoto group were being kept in voluntary quarantine at home. Their families were also included in the quarantine.

Middlemore Hospital has released Tamiflu, originally stockpiled in response to a potential bird flu outbreak in 2003, to treat the patients and those who have contact with them.

The effectiveness of Tamiflu on swine flu was not yet confirmed, but reports from Mexico said it was effective, deputy director of public health Darren Hunt said.

Rangitoto College principal David Hodge said the students, aged from 15-18 in years 11-13, had spent most of their time in Mexico City on the Spanish language trip.

Canada confirms first cases:

Six people were confirmed to have

, with two cases in the western province of British Columbia and four in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia.

Chief Public Health officer Dr Robert Strang said four students from King's-Edgehill School in Nova Scotia, ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18, were recovering. All of them had what he described as "very mild" cases of the flu.

Eight New York students ill:

New York City is dealing with a growing public health threat after tests confirmed that eight students at a private Catholic high school had contracted swine flu. Some of the school's students had visited Mexico on a spring break trip two weeks ago.

New York officials previously had characterised the cases as probable, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was swine flu, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

About 100 students at St Francis Preparatory School complained of flu-like symptoms; further tests will determine how many of those cases are swine flu.

Bloomberg stressed that the New York cases were mild and many are recovering, but said that parents of the students also had flu symptoms, "suggesting it is spreading person to person".

He said that the virus likely came from Mexico, although that has not officially been determined.

"We do know that some of the students from the school had a spring break in Mexico," Bloomberg said, surrounded by top city officials and members of Congress.

"It is most likely to be brought back from Mexico, but nobody knows."

Federal health officials said 20 swine flu cases had so far been reported far in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. Patients have ranged in age from 9 to over 50. At least two were hospitalised. All recovered or are recovering.

Mexico silent as flu sweeps through:

Mexico City's mayor says two more people have died of swine flu overnight in the capital, and three other deaths are suspected to have been caused by the new strain.

Marcelo Ebrard says 73 more people have been hospitalised with influenza and authorities are investigating how many of them may have been infected with swine flu.

City Health Secretary Armando Ahued says most of the fatal cases involve victims who sought medical help only after the disease was already well advanced.

in heavily Roman Catholic Mexico City after services were cancelled, and health workers screened airports and bus stations for people made ill by the new strain of swine flu.

President Felipe Calderon assumed new powers to isolate people infected with the deadly swine flu strain that Mexico's health minister says has killed up to 81 people and likely made 1324 ill since April 13.

Mexican soldiers and health workers patrolled the capital's subway system handing out surgical masks and looking for possible flu cases. People were advised to seek medical attention if they suffered from multiple symptoms - which include a fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches, coughing, a sore throat, respiratory congestion and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Hundreds of public events from concerts to sports matches to were called off to keep people from congregating and spreading the virus in crowds. Zoos were closed and visits to juvenile correction centres were suspended.

A football game between clubs America and Tecos was played in Mexico City's nearly empty Aztec Stadium, the giant 100,000-seat facility closed to the public because of the outbreak of swine flu.

In another game, capital club Pumas played Chivas in an empty University City stadium, which was sold out before the match. The match was a 1-1 draw and it was not immediately clear how ticket refunds might be handled.

About a dozen federal police in blue surgical masks stood in front of Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral, enforcing a measure cancelling services to avoid large concentrations of people.

Pig meat safe to eat - officials:

The WHO said people were not at risk of becoming infected with swine flu through exposure to pork.

"Right now we have no evidence to suggest that people are getting infected from exposure to pork or to pigs so right now we have zero evidence that exposure to meat leads to infection," Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO director-general for health security and environment, told a teleconference.

Fukuda was commenting on reports that some countries may ban imports of meat from Mexico or other countries where swine flu has been detected.

The WHO advises that the swine influenza virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius, corresponding to the general guidance for preparing pork and other meat.

Key developments so far:

*

The new virus is called a swine flu, though it contains genetic segments from humans and birds viruses as well as from pigs from North America, Europe and Asia.

Health officials had seen combinations of bird, pig and human virus before - but never such an intercontinental mix, including more than one pig virus.

People appear to have no immunity to the new virus and it seems to

from person to person.

Deaths:

86, all in Mexico. Twenty-two confirmed as swine flu, 64 suspected.

Sick people:

1,384 in Mexico, suspected or confirmed; 20 confirmed in US; 13 suspected in New Zealand; 6 confirmed in Canada; 7 suspected in Spain; 1 suspected in France; 1 suspected in Israel, 1 suspected in Brazil.

Locations in Mexico:

17 states, including Mexico City, Mexico State, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Baja California and San Luis Potosi. Some, including Oaxaca, Mexico City and Baja California, have tourist areas, but authorities have not said where in these states the outbreaks occurred.

Locations in US:

8 in New York, 7 in California, 2 in Kansas, 2 in Texas and 1 in Ohio.

Safety measures in Mexico:

In Mexico City, surgical masks were being given away on the subway system, public events were cancelled, schools and public venues were closed and church services postponed. President Felipe Calderon has assumed new powers to isolate infected people.

Safety measures in the US:

Roughly 12 million doses of Tamiflu are being moved from federal stockpile to be delivered to states. Travellers at the border are being asked about travel to flu-stricken areas. St Francis Preparatory School in New York, where eight cases are confirmed, will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. St Mel's Catholic School in Fair Oaks, California, closed until at least Thursday as officials investigate possible infection of seventh grader.

Safety measures worldwide:

Airports screening travellers from Mexico for flu symptoms. China, Russia and Taiwan plan to put anyone with symptoms under quarantine. Hong Kong and South Korea warn against travel to Mexican City and three provinces. Italy, Poland and Venezuela advised citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States.

- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB, AP, NZ HERALD STAFF, AAP