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Woman infected with swine flu on Chinese mainland

China reported its first locally transmitted swine flu case on the mainland yesterday.

The patient, a 24-year-old woman in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong Province, was believed to have been infected by a man from New York on Monday. Guangdong health officials confirmed both as having the H1N1 virus yesterday.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that because the case indicated the flu virus had begun to spread to the local population from an imported case, it "attaches great importance to the case and will soon discuss to step up prevention and control work nationwide."

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is also discussing further measures, such as the closure of schools and entertainment venues, should the situation worsen, the center's chief epidemiologist Zeng Guang said yesterday.

But he stressed that there was no need for panic because China had made careful preparations and the disease was largely preventable and treatable.

The infected woman is a beautician at a photography studio in Guangzhou.

A 28-year-old Chinese-American man from New York developed a sore throat on May 24 after he had flown from the United States to Guangzhou via Incheon City in South Korea. On Monday and Tuesday, he and his girlfriend were with the studio staff, including the beautician, having bridal photos taken.

He fell ill and went to hospital on Wednesday.

The same day, the beautician developed a sore throat, headache and fever.

"Both patients are in a stable condition," the health ministry said, but noted that the cases had caused "great concern" at national level.

Health Minister Chen Zhu sent an expert team to Guangdong and the ministry called a national video conference yesterday afternoon to discuss further control steps.

Also yesterday, the Guangdong health department said two suspected cases in Shenzhen City, near Hong Kong, were confirmed as swine flu.

A 22-year-old American man and his 21-year-old sister were on flight CI0011 from New York to Taipei on May 17, and took flight CI0601 from Taipei to Hong Kong two days later.

On Wednesday they were found to be feverish while crossing the border at Shenzhen from Hong Kong, and sent to hospital.

All 11 people who had close contact with the two are now under medical observation.

As of yesterday, the Chinese mainland had 21 confirmed cases - six in Guangdong, five in Beijing, four in Shanghai, two in Fujian Province, and one each in Hunan, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces. But seven of them have recovered and left hospital.

Meanwhile, two men and three women who flew in from the United States tested positive for the H1N1 virus in Hong Kong yesterday, bringing the total number of infection to 20 in the city.

Taiwan also confirmed a new H1N1 flu case yesterday, bringing the total in the island to 11.

The latest case involved a 19-year-old female student who currently studied in the United States. On Tuesday, the girl took a plane to Taiwan, with stopovers at Chicago and Tokyo. She arrived in the island the next day.


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