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Authorities scramble to halt swine flu in Asia

world Updated: May 02, 2009 17:24 IST

AFP
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Health authorities across Asia were scrambling on Saturday to limit the spread of swine flu after reporting two confirmed cases in one of the world's most densely populated regions.

South Korea reported today that a 51-year-old woman who recently visited Mexico tested positive for swine flu, while Hong Kong's first confirmed case was a 25-year-old Mexican who arrived in the city from Mexico via Shanghai.

The Hong Kong hotel where he had briefly stayed, along with 300 guests and staff, was cordoned off by police and put under a seven-day quarantine while other countries including India and Japan reported suspected cases.

Hong Kong's confirmed case, the first in Asia, sparked a regional health alert, with China immediately ordering health authorities to find and isolate the man's fellow passengers.

China "asked health authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong to immediately put passengers... Under quarantine and a seven-day medical observation," its health ministry said on its website.

Fears for a rapid spread of flu were heightened with China today entering the second day of an annual holiday that sees tens of millions of people on the move.