There are no cases of swine flu yet in Quebec, but the province's health officials say they are prepared to deal with the virus should it surface here.

"It would he very surprising if there were no cases in Quebec," said Dr. Alain Poirier, the province's director of public health.

Poirier said that with the size of Quebec's population, and all the travelling to and from Mexico, the virus could circulate very easily.

He made the comments at a news conference in Quebec City Sunday, accompanied by Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc.

Poirier confirmed that at least two people in Quebec -- including one in Montreal -- were placed under observation as a precaution, but did not test positive for swine flu.

He said Quebecers travelling to Mexico should take basic precautions. He urged them to wash their hands frequently, and stay away from large groups of people.

Meanwhile, Quebec has opened an emergency centre to deal with cases in the event of an outbreak in the province.

Bolduc said public health officials are working closely with hospitals and clinics, exchanging information on the virus and preparing staff to handle any cases that may arise.

Six confirmed cases in Canada

In Canada, authorities have already confirmed six cases of swine flu -- four in Nova Scotia and two in British Columbia.

Swine flu, also known as A H1N1, is normally contracted through contact with pigs. However, it appears that this strain, which was first reported in Mexico, is spread through human-to-human contact.

Symptoms include fever, muscle and joint pain, cough, sore throat, eye pain, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue.

Late Thursday, Mexico's health secretary confirmed 1,614 cases in that country with 103 believed dead.

Airlines waiving fees

Both Air Canada and West Jet issued travel advisories Sunday stating that travellers with bookings to and from Mexico City will be allowed to change their bookings without paying change fees, until April 30.

With files from News Staff and The Associated Press