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HK shuts down schools as H1N1 virus spikes

HONG Kong yesterday ordered a two-week suspension of all primary schools, kindergartens, child-care centers and special schools to prevent the spread of swine flu amid a new outbreak of cases.

"We now migrate from the containment phase to the new mitigation phase," Chief Executive Donald Tsang said after a meeting of a steering committee set up to fight the disease.

Fourteen people tested positive for the H1N1 virus in Hong Kong yesterday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the city to 63, said a spokesman for the special administrative region's Department of Health.

Eleven new cases came from the same class at St Paul's Convent School attended by a 16-year-old girl who was confirmed to have the virus on Wednesday.

The health department's investigation showed that none of the students had traveled recently or been in contact with people from flu-affected areas who were exhibiting flu symptoms.

Three of the 14 new cases were imported. One involved a 43-year-old man who traveled to Europe and returned to Hong Kong from London on Wednesday. Another involved a 16-year-old girl living in San Francisco who arrived in Hong Kong with her parents yesterday.

The third imported case involved a 20-year-old woman studying in Switzerland who returned to Hong Kong from Zurich on Sunday.

Investigations into the newly reported cases continued yesterday.


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