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November 2, 2009

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H1N1 under control but 'spreading'

H1N1 influenza was spreading rapidly across China but remained under control, an official with the Ministry of Health said in Beijing yesterday.

"Close to 80 percent of the country's total flu infections are H1N1 cases, though the state of the flu is still mild and there is no evidence of virus mutation," Liang Wannian said.

As of Saturday, more than 46,000 confirmed H1N1 flu cases had been reported on the Chinese mainland, 75 percent of whom had recovered, the ministry said.

Among the 93 serious cases, 55 were still in hospital, it said.

The Chinese mainland has reported six deaths from the flu since October 2.

Ministry experts warned the flu had entered a peak period and could spread quickly and last through next March.

Liang urged health administrative departments across the country to "prepare for the worst and do the best."

He said medical institutions and hospitals were getting prepared in terms of personnel, materials and technical support to cope with emergencies.

"China has taken measures to prevent and control the spread of the flu, which proved to be effective, buying some time for the country to prepare for a more serious epidemic," Liang said.

"China's preventive measures have also greatly slowed down the spread of the flu and significantly reduced the deaths from the flu."

As the first country in the world to issue a production license for vaccines against the flu, China had inoculated more than 3.78 million people as of Saturday, with no reports of serious adverse reactions, according to the ministry.

About 33.4 million doses of vaccines had been approved for use as of Saturday, 26 million of which had been sent to medical institutions.

The eight domestic vaccine manufacturers are expected to produce a total of 100 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine by the first quarter of next year, according to the ministry.

But for now, about 390 million people on the Chinese mainland needed inoculation.

Targeted groups include the People's Liberation Army soldiers, police, medical staff, teachers, students, people working in key public service posts and patients with chronic or cardiovascular diseases.

Children under three years old and pregnant women were not included in the targeted groups due to a lack of clinical data, the ministry said.

Children were in the high-risk groups, Liang said.

As of Saturday, more than 1,500 cases of mass infection had been reported on the mainland, 98 percent of which were related to schools.

The mainland now has 411 laboratories and 556 hospitals monitoring flu cases.


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