Asia-Pacific Further Alarmed as A/H1N1 Flu Cases Increase in Japan, Australia
    2009-05-22 01:14:29     Xinhua      Web Editor: Xu Leiying
With new cases reported in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures, confirmed cases of A/H1N1 flu amounted to 292 from 266 overnight in Japan while the figure of such cases in Australia jumped to nine on Thursday, giving further alarm on the spread of the flu virus in the region.

The Japanese health authorities are considering dividing the country into three areas to adopt different measures to cope with the disease, Kyodo News reported, citing government sources.

Hyogo and Osaka are likely to be designated as "an area with widespread infections," Tokyo, Kanagawa and Shiga prefectures as " an area with limited infections," and the rest of the nation as an area without an infection," it said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said that the government will convene a meeting Friday to deliberate a shift in measures from trying to shut the flu out of the country to curbing the domestic spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, two school girls were confirmed to be infected with the new flu in Tokyo, becoming the first cases outside the Kansai region.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has instructed three high schools to keep nine students and teachers, who were in New York with the two infected girls, from attending school.

During a budget committee session at the upper house, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe said that the A/H1N1 influenza has been "substantially widespread" in Japan.

The government will follow the ever-changing situation and try to strike a balance between the need for anti-epidemic measures and avoiding strains on people's lives, he said.

In Australia, two new cases of A/H1N1 flu have been diagnosed in Melbourne, bringing the number of cases to nine in the country, Australian Associated Press reports late Thursday.

The first confirmed case in the country, a New South Wales female, turned up on May 9 and most of the new cases have been identified since Wednesday as health officials warned of more cases to confront.

Victorian health authorities closed down Melbourne's Clifton Hill Primary School on Wednesday night after two pupils, aged 9 and 10, and their older brother, 12, tested positive for A/H1N1 flu.

But late Thursday a third pupil from the primary school, a 10- year-old girl, a classmate of the middle boy, and a 25-year-old Melbourne man who flew in from Los Angeles on Tuesday, have also contracted the virus.

The three brothers all returned positive results after returning from a family holiday to Disneyland in the United States.

The Melbourne family, including parents Stephanie and Jim, the three boys and a daughter have been treated with Tamiflu and will stay in home quarantine.

Meanwhile, a 54-year-old Mexican woman visiting family in Melbourne also has the flu.

A Sydney woman and her child, said to be aged under five, have also tested positive after arriving in Sydney on a flight from the United States last week.

In the other part of Asia, the Philippine health department announced on Thursday the country's first confirmed A/H1N1 flu case.

The patient is a Filipina who arrived on May 18 from the United States, Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

Also on Thursday, China's Taiwan reported a second case of the A/H1N1 influenza. The island's health authorities said a 22-year- old female student, who arrived in Taiwan on a flight from the United States via Hong Kong, was confirmed to be infected with the virus.

In China's neighbor Vietnam, two Vietnamese nationals returning home from infected foreign countries showed flu-like symptoms, the local newspaper Liberty Saigon reported on Thursday.

One of them returned home from Malaysia and the other from China's Taiwan. Their bodies showed higher temperature than normal. They were suspected of having the flu A/H1N1 virus, said the newspaper.

They were isolated and transferred to the Ho Chi Minh Hospital of Infectious and Tropical Diseases for further observation.

Amid the high possibility of the flu reaching the country, Vietnamese relevant ministries, authorities in cities and provinces nationwide had been taking all-out efforts to prevent an outbreak of the A/H1N1 flu in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), world's total number of confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases has risen to 11,034, including 85 deaths.

There was an overall increase of 791 cases in the past 24 hours, and most of the new cases were reported by Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

In Asia-Pacific region, the confirmed cases of A/H1N1 Influenza reportedly on Thursday reached to 330, including 292 in Japan; nine in New Zealand; four in South Korea; two in Thailand; two in Malaysia; nine in Australia; 10 in China (three cases in Hong Kong, two cases in Taiwan); one in India and one in the Philippines.

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