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November 12, 2009

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'Anti-flu' mask maker closed

A TIANJIN-BASED textile company was shut down yesterday for selling ordinary masks that were advertised as swine-flu super fighters.

The Mingda Co claimed it had invented a special mask that can kill the H1N1 virus. It said the National Influenza Center proved the mask would combat 92 percent of the virus, much higher than regular masks. The new mask can also eliminate 99 percent of other bacteria, the company claimed.

State Food and Drug Administration officials told a new conference that they had never approved the production of any anti-H1N1 mask.

The Mingda Co, based in a textile factory in a small county in north China's Hebei Province, is not even licensed to produce medical products.

The flu center had not tested the masks and is not authorized to vet any medical products, said its chief, Shu Yuelong.

The advertisement is not simply misleading, said FDA spokeswoman Yan Jiangying. The factory is making money of the swine flu plague, she said.

A police raid on Monday led to the seizure of 3,102 Mingda masks and other raw materials. Mingda has already sold 5,000 of the masks for 9.5 yuan (US$1.39) each.

Also yesterday, China's Ministry of Health reported that swine flu has killed 36 and infected more than 62,800 people on the mainland since it began early this year.

The Chinese mainland reported 3,393 confirmed H1N1 flu cases in the 48 hours ending at 3pm yesterday, the ministry said.

Nearly 75 percent of the patients have recovered. Among the 285 cases that resulted in serious conditions, 54 have been cured and nearly 10.9 million Chinese people have been inoculated with the swine flu vaccine.


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