Swine flu latest: British victims were on honeymoon

The newlyweds caught virus in Cancun, Mexico

The two Britons suffering from swine flu are newlyweds who spent their honeymoon in Mexico, it was revealed today.

Iain and Dawn Askham
, from Polmont, near Falkirk, flew back from Cancun last Tuesday with flu-like symptoms and last night tested positive for the killer disease. They are in Monklands Hospital, Airdrie. Mr Askham works for Scottish Power.

The development raises fears about holidaymakers returning from Mexico because it had been thought tourist regions were relatively safe. Britons are now being advised to avoid all but essential travel to the country, as holiday firms cancel flights and start bringing people home. 

One official from the World Health Organisation warned up to 40 per cent of the British population could be infected if the outbreak becomes a pandemic. But Gordon Brown pledged to take ‘all the action necessary’ to stop the disease spreading. ‘We have been preparing for this kind of scenario for many years. Britain is among the best prepared countries in the world,’ he insisted in Poland this morning.

The Askhams fell ill after returning from Mexico last Tuesday, where the outbreak of the H1N1 strain is believed to have first crossed from pigs to people. Seven of their friends and family are also showing symptoms of the virus along with 17 other people in the UK who are being tested.

Neighbour Rachel Anderson said today: ‘They were in Mexico for their honeymoon. On Saturday one of the neighbours noticed a paramedic on the street and they have not seen the couple since. It is a shame for them and I feel for their family. They will be very worried.’

The couple were identified after the World Health Organisation dramatically raised its alert level from three to four, two steps short of declaring a full-blown pandemic. Britain’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said this morning: ‘That does not mean that a pandemic is inevitable but we are very concerned.’

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