There are now three new confirmed or probable cases of swine flu
in New Zealand, taking the country's official total to 16.
All have tested positive for influenza A and have recently returned from Mexico or the United States. All 16 are Auckland-based.
One is a child of a passenger, although the Health Ministry says every patient is continuing to recover well.
There are now 111 suspected cases, up from 96 on Wednesday. These are people who have flu-like symptoms, have been to the US or Mexico in the past week and have been tested for influenza A.
There's a third group, a further 121 who are in isolation on the anti-viral drug Tamiflu as a precaution, up from 111.
They include Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn who was put into quarantine at home on Thursday, one day before a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister John Key.
Kokshoorn and his family flew home from a holiday in Hawaii and North America a day before the flight that carried the flu strain to New Zealand. A family member is now taking Tamiflu as a precaution and being tested for influenza A after becoming sick five days later, Kokshoorn says.
"Want to stress I haven't got the flu. I've never been better," he says.
The ministry says its focus is now to "contain and mitigate", border vigilance to keep it out and Tamiflu and isolation to stamp it out.
The next move is to announce on Friday a location for what's called a community assessment centre or c-bac in Auckland, a place where they will take suspected swine flu cases, away from the hospital emergency department. Middlemore is the preferred location as it is close to the airport where all the cases so far have come from.
"The growth in suspect numbers is primarily from close family contacts from passengers on flights," Health Minister Tony Ryall told a press conference on Thursday.
"As you know we are working hard to identify people potentially with swine flu so we can provide them with treatment and support and limit the spread of the flu," Ryall says.
All suspect cases are being given the Tamiflu anti viral drug.
The Ministry of Health says all the confirmed cases have so far had only mild flu symptoms, and are on the mend or have recovered.
The World Health Organisation now says a global swine flu pandemic is imminent, and has lifted its alert level to five after confirmation of deaths now in two countries.
The toll in Mexico stands at 159, but the death of a toddler in the United States signals the first fatality outside of Mexico.
Tamiflu over the counter
You can buy the drug that's effective against the swine flu without a doctor's prescription from Friday.
Tamiflu is routinely available over the counter every flu season from May to September.
Chemists nationwide have reported a rush in prescription demand for the drug this week.
But officials say over-the-counter access to the drug will be limited.
The head of the Medical Association is urging people to think carefully before they part with their money to buy the drug.
Medical Association chairman Peter Foley says unless people have had contact with someone with influenza, flu -like symptoms are most likely to be a common cold.
Tamiflu costs $75 for a course of treatment and needs to be taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms emerging.
Keep up to date with the latest news no matter where you are with our dedicated swine flu Twitter feed. - http://twitter.com/SwineFluInNZ PLUS Health correspondent Lorelei Mason will be keeping you in the loop on how she is covering the story as it develops - http://twitter.com/SwineFluNZNews
Got on opinion on this new health concern? Share your
thoughts on the message board below.