President Arias has contracted Influenza A (H1N1)

Costa Rican president and Nobel laureate Oscar Arias says he has tested positive for swine flu, in proof that "the pandemic doesn't discriminate". He is to remain in isolation for seven days.


AFP- Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and mediator in the Honduran political crisis, said on Tuesday he had contracted swine flu.

"The pandemic doesn't discriminate," Arias said in a statement. "I am one more case in the country, and I am subject to the same recommendations that the health authorities have established for all the population."

The 67-year-old's brother and chief of staff, Rodrigo Arias, earlier told a shocked nation that the president must remain isolated at home for at least seven days, but will not delegate power during his absence.

President Arias, a Nobel laureate who suffers from chronic asthma, was said to have had flu-like symptoms for some days, prompting medical tests.

"After feeling a sore throat, headache and temperature, the president asked for a test and today (Tuesday) they confirmed he had contracted the A(H1N1) influenza virus," said Rodrigo Arias.

The veteran leader has recently been spearheading international efforts to resolve the crisis in Honduras, meeting rival factions who have clashed since President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military-backed coup in June.

Mayi Antillon, a spokeswoman for the Costa Rican government, said Arias would continue to work from home.

"He does not want to deceive the population," she said explaining the decision to make his illness public.

Arias first became president in 1986.

During his first four-year term he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating peace accords which helped bring an end to Central America's many military conflicts.

After a 16-year absence from the presidential palace, he began a second term in office in 2006.

He has been thrust back into the international spotlight through his mediation in Honduras, meeting many of the main players in the Western Hemisphere.

He has produced a plan calling for Zelaya's return to office and early elections, proposals that have so far been rejected by the interim government.

His current term expires on May 8, 2010.

Twenty-seven people have died as a result of the virus in Costa Rica, and about 800 people have been infected.

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