Thursday, August 13, 2009

Costa Rica's Arias works from home with swine flu

(REUTERS/FILE PHOTO/Juan Carlos Ulate)San Jose, Costa Rica, (Reuters) - Costa Rican President Oscar Arias received treatment at home for the H1N1 swine flu virus on Wednesday, and officials said his symptoms were mild and he could recover by next week.

Health ministry doctors tested people who have been in recent contact with the president, including members of his Cabinet, Arias' office said, a day after announcing he was ill with a mild case of the virus.

The 68-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is the first head of state known to have contracted swine flu, which has spread around the world since April and could eventually affect 2 billion people.

Arias was being treated with the antiviral Tamiflu for symptoms like body aches and a sore throat, but was working on his computer and answering the telephone, presidential spokeswoman Lisbeth Barbosa said.

"He will probably be back to a full schedule next Monday," she said.

Swine flu was declared a pandemic on June 11 and has killed more than 800 people worldwide. The World Health Organization stopped trying to get a precise count of flu cases.

Arias is considered a high-risk case because he also suffers from asthma. He began feeling sick over the weekend and was tested for H1N1 on Monday.

Vice Health Minister Ana Morice on Wednesday afternoon told Costa Rican television that Arias no longer had a fever and was mainly suffering from a sore throat.

Last month, Arias brokered talks to resolve the political crisis in Honduras, where a de facto government unrecognized by most of the world has been holding power since the army ousted President Manuel Zelaya in a June 28 coup.

Negotiations broke down two weeks ago over whether the interim leadership would let Zelaya return to power. Arias' illness is unlikely to affect the situation.

(Reporting by John McPhaul; Editing by Will Dunham)

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