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H1N1 death in China 'likely'

CHINA will "very likely" have its first death from swine flu in the "foreseeable future," given the rise in the spread of the H1N1 virus across the country, a health ministry official said yesterday.

"Imported cases of H1N1 flu are expected to continue to increase in the near future, and more local people will be infected by the virus," Liang Wannian, vice director of the emergency office under the Ministry of Health, told a press conference in Beijing.

As infections increase, there's a greater chance that medical workers and high-risk groups such as pregnant women and people with chronic diseases will contract the disease, making serious cases and even fatalities "extremely possible," he said.

Liang also said a community-wide or a regional outbreak of swine flu is "inevitable at this point."

"The possibility that the virus will spread widely in China in the autumn and winter is also becoming more likely," Liang said, adding that swine flu is spreading at much higher speed than when it first entered the country.

The Chinese mainland reported 37 new cases of swine flu yesterday, including 13 from Shanghai and bringing the total number to 766.

Many schools were closed in Guangdong Province yesterday as dozens of students have become sick. The south China province is also facing a potential community outbreak in some of its cities.

Major task

Most of the country's H1N1 patients came in from outside China, Liang said.

The next major task for the nation is to reduce locally transmitted cases, prevent the spread of disease in communities and save patients in critical situations, according to Liang.

The Ministry of Health will focus on schools and grassroots communities in its campaign to contain the virus, Liang said.

He also said China will stockpile more than 13 million doses of swine flu vaccine by the end of September as a national reserve.


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