Colombian president contracts swine flu

President Alvaro Uribe has swine flu and officials are contacting other South American governments whose leaders attended a summit last week with the Colombian leader, authorities said.

President Alvaro Uribe has swine flu and officials are contacting other South American governments whose leaders attended a summit last week with the Colombian leader, authorities said.

The 57-year-old Mr Uribe began feeling symptoms on Friday, the same day as a meeting of South American presidents in Bariloche, Argentina, and he was confirmed to have swine flu after returning home, Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio said.

“This isn’t something that has us scared,” Mr Palacio said at a news conference.

Mr Uribe, a key US ally in Latin America, is not considered a high-risk patient and will continue working from his computer, officials said.

Public health director Gilberto Alvarez said in a telephone interview that there was no need to put the president in isolation and that his condition would monitored for three days to a week.

During a Union of South American Nations summit of the region’s presidents on Friday, Mr Uribe spent hours defending his plan to give US troops more access to Colombian bases as part of his government’s fight against drug traffickers and leftist rebels.

Many of his colleagues voiced concerns about the idea.

Mr Palacio said Colombia’s foreign ministry was informing governments whose leaders may have come in contact with Mr Uribe.

No governments immediately reported cases of sick officials.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who attended Friday’s summit, said he felt fine and had recently been tested.

“I regret this and hope there are no repercussions for the president’s health and that nobody else has caught the disease,” said the socialist Mr Chavez, who has had strained relations with Mr Uribe, a conservative.

Mr Uribe is the second Latin American leader to come down with the swine flu.

On August 11, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced he had swine flu and was being quarantined at his home.

The 69-year-old leader, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending Central America’s civil wars, has recovered.

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