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Global swine flu death toll mounts

world Updated: May 29, 2009 19:15 IST

Health authorities around the world battled on Friday to stop the spread of swine flu with schools in Europe closed, while the death toll mounted in Mexico.

Even US President Barack Obama's visit to France next week was touched by the epidemic when a US official preparing a visit to the Normandy beaches was stricken by the virus and put in isolation. China reported its first case of domestic infection.

Belgian health authorities closed a primary school in a Brussels suburb on Friday after a 10-year boy was found to have the A(H1N1) virus after a trip to the United States.

All pupils in the boy's class and their teachers received treatment, a statement by the government's flu committee said. "All families have been asked to remain at home and monitor the state of their children."

The Belgian action came only a day after the elite Eton private school in Britain, which has educated generations of British prime ministers and royals, was ordered to close for a week after a 13-year-old pupil was confirmed as a swine flu carrier.

Seventeen other new cases were confirmed in Britain, where a total of 203 people have now been infected.

The virus has now killed more than 110 people around the world, according to individual governments. The World Health Organisation said 13,398 people in 48 countries were now infected with hundreds of new cases reported each day.

Mexico's death toll rose by six to 95 on Thursday, while the number of infected cases rose to 4,879, the health ministry said. Venezuela and Paraguay were the latest countries to report cases.
China's health ministry confirmed the first case of swine flu involving a person infected inside the country.

The ministry said a 24-year-old woman in the southern province of Guangdong had been infected after contact with a virus carrier.

The woman works as a make-up artist at a photo studio in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, and came into contact with the sufferer who was having wedding photos taken at the studio, it said.

The health ministry said the virus carrier was a 28-year-old Chinese-American man employed at a hospital in New York, who had flown to Guangzhou on Sunday.

An American woman sent to France to prepare the US president's visit to D-Day landing beaches next week has been hospitalised with swine flu, French officials said Friday.

"Eleven people who were in close contact with her were given preventive treatment last night and confined to their hotel rooms for 24 hours," said Christian Leyrit, the state representative in the Normandy region.

Leyrit insisted there would be no impact on the D-Day commemorations involving Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on June 6.