By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 30, 2009 2:08 PM
LONDON, April 30 -- British officials confirmed three new cases of swine flu on Thursday, bringing the nation's total to eight.
Two of those infected live in London, and one lives in the northern city of Newcastle. Officials at Britain's Health Protection Agency said the three "have mild symptoms and are responding to treatment at home."
The agency, in a statement, said all eight British cases involve people who had recently traveled to Mexico. It said it is currently investigating 230 other cases.
Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, said he was "concerned, but not alarmed" over the swine flu outbreak, which also reached the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland on Thursday. Confirmed cases there bring the total of affected countries to at least 12.
"I'm in a position where I feel we can reassure the public that we know what we are doing, we have a clear plan in place, and we will do everything possible to mitigate the impact of this," Donaldson told the BBC.
"We can't make it go away; lots of people will become ill, but we hope we will be able to deal with the problem in an orderly and organized way," he said.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown told members of Parliament that health checks would be stepped up at British airports and that stocks of antiviral drugs would be increased from 35 million to 50 million doses by the end of May. That would mean there would be doses for nearly five out of six British citizens.
Brown said the government was taking "all the steps that are necessary to prepare and to protect the population."
The British government on Thursday also launched a television, radio and newspaper ad campaign reminding people to cover their mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and to wash their hands immediately afterwards.
The first British people confirmed to have swine flu, a Scottish couple who honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico, have been released from the hospital and are "very well," said Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister.
Salmond told the Scottish Parliament that there were 27 more suspected cases in Scotland.