- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 30, 2009

BOGOTA — President Alvaro Uribe has the swine flu and officials are contacting other South American governments whose leaders attended a recent summit along with the Colombia leader, authorities said Sunday.

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

“This isn’t something that has us scared,” Palacio told a news conference, adding that Uribe was not considered a high-risk patient.

Uribe is not under quarantine and none of his family members or close associates have shown symptoms of the disease, officials said.

Uribe spent Friday defending a plan to give U.S. troops access to Colombian bases as part of the war on drugs during an UNASUR group summit attended by most of the region’s presidents.

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

Colombia’s Presidency released a brief statement saying the country’s National Health Institute confirmed that Uribe had swine flu. It said his case was “developing satisfactorily.”

Officials did not provide further details of Uribe’s symptoms. But local media said that during the Colombian president’s customary meeting with regional authorities on Saturday he appeared congested and sneezing.

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

On Aug. 11, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced that he had swine flu and was being quarantined at his home. The 69-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recovered.

Colombia has reported 621 confirmed cases, including Uribe, of swine flu with 31 deaths, according to the social protection ministry.

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