Local Group Infections of A/H1N1 Flu Seen in Asia-Pacific Region, Posing New Threat
    2009-06-12 00:10:13     Xinhua      Web Editor: Tian Tian
 
As the World Health Organization told its members Thursday to raise the flu alert to the highest level, local group infections of A/H1N1 flu were reported in the Hong Kong SAR, Japan and Thailand, posing new threat to the Asia Pacific region's epidemic prevention systems.

In Hong Kong SAR, the first cluster of indigenous cases of A/ H1N1 influenza was confirmed on Thursday, leading the local government to announce a 14-day suspension for all primary schools, kindergartens, childcare centers and special schools to prevent the flu spread.

"We now migrate from the containment phase to the new mitigation phase," Chief Executive Donald Tsang said.

Twelve students from St. Paul's Convent School in Causeway Bay were confirmed to have contracted the A/H1N1 virus, which became the first local cluster of cases in the territory.

The Education Bureau and the Department of Health will monitor the situation daily, to decide whether or not classes will resume after the 14-day period.

The Hospital Authority will open on Saturday eight flu clinics for managing patients with influenza-like illness. The authority will expand the number of clinics to 18 if necessary, Tsang said.

He also urges the public not to panic. "The government will continue to be vigilant and fully prepared for the worst. There is no need for the public to panic but they must stay alert and pay high attention to personal and community hygiene."

Secretary for Food and Health York Chow noted that all public events can continue but the organizers should ensure the hygiene of the venues and urge the participants to pay attention to personal hygiene.

Hong Kong government will continues its current port health measures at border control points, including health declaration, temperature screening, and boarding of flights by port health officers when alerted by crew to sick passengers. Port Health will post notices at all exit points and advise all departure and transfer travelers not to travel if they are having fever or flu symptoms.

Japan Thursday also confirmed its first new-flu group infections at a Tokyo school, with nine students of a high school in Minato Ward contracting the disease, Kyodo News reported.

The privately run Seisoku High School will be closed for one week from Thursday due to the outbreak. All the infected students have no record of traveling abroad recently.

The nine students -- six boys and three girls -- have developed flu symptoms such as fever, but their conditions are stable, the report said.

The total number of people infected with the new H1N1 strain of influenza A in Japan reached 536 as of Thursday, including the first case confirmed in Hokkaido.

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