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Mexico Reports More Flu Deaths


Mexican authorities say there have been 42 deaths in the country from the swine influenza A-H1N1 virus, out of more than 1,000 confirmed cases.

Mexico's Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova announced the higher death toll Wednesday, as businesses began reopening after officials said the flu there appeared to be spreading more slowly.

The new figure brings the number of confirmed swine flu deaths worldwide to 44. The two deaths outside of Mexico occurred in the U.S. state of Texas, which borders Mexico.

One of the victims was a 33-year-old American woman, who died Monday. Officials say she had chronic health problems. The other fatality in the U.S. was a Mexican toddler who died in a Texas hospital last week.

In testimony before a Congressional committee Wednesday, U.S. health officials said they are responding aggressively to the swine flu outbreak, and are in the early stages of developing a vaccine.

Globally, the World Health Organization says more than 1,500 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in 22 countries. Sweden confirmed its first case Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said the situation in Mexico has stabilized, but he encouraged people to keep taking steps to avoid spreading the flu, as it remains in the population.

Meanwhile, a plane chartered by the Mexican government returned a group of Mexican citizens from China, after Chinese officials quarantined them, fearing they were infected. Mexico criticized the quarantine as discriminatory, saying none of the Mexicans showed any swine flu symptoms.

News reports say about 150 Mexicans arrived Wednesday morning on the flight, which was part of an agreement between the Chinese and Mexican governments to send citizens of both countries back home. Another plane picked up more than 80 Chinese nationals from Mexico to return them to China.

China says its strict measures are in the interest of public health, but critics say the precautions are heavy-handed. Hong Kong's chief executive has apologized for the ongoing, week-long quarantine of hundreds of people at a local hotel where an infected Mexican guest stayed.

About 25 Canadian university students were quarantined for a week, and two U.S. citizens are also being kept in isolation at a hotel in a suburb of Beijing.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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