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H1N1 Swine Flu Virus Spreads to More Countries

The H1N1 swine flu virus continues to spread worldwide with mainland China reporting its first case [Monday, May 11] and Japan confirming its first four cases. The World Health Organization says globally at least 61 people have died with more than 4,700 cases reported in 30 countries. 56 of those deaths are in Mexico, which has been at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Mainland China has reported its first case of the swine influenza A-H1N1. The Chinese Health Ministry says a 30-year-old man who traveled to China from the United States was hospitalized in Chengdu.

Health authorities also located and quarantined almost all of the airline passengers who flew with him on a flight from Japan and on a domestic flight. Some Chengdu residents are fearful over a swine flu outbreak.

"I made it a point to go to the pharmacy today to buy anti-influenza medicine - Face masks and other supplies," said Wei Qifeng. "I'm quite worried and wondering if it will affect our lives."

In Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, the government reported eight deaths Monday.

But across the country life was slowly returning to normal following the end of a nationwide shutdown aimed at halting the spread of the virus. Most primary schools have reopened and on Sunday Mexicans were able to attend church services, with some wearing masks.

In Mexico City, restaurants, bars,and night clubs reopened. Even flower markets were doing a brisk business as fears appear to have eased.

"I'm not afraid of swine flu, says one woman, but we have to take care and follow all the measures ordered by the government."

In the United States health officials say they have seen a 20 percent increase in the number of swine flu cases over the last few days, including a third death. Washington State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky confirmed the death of a 39-year-old man who also suffered from other underlying health problems.

Selecky says authorities are bracing for more cases.

"We know that we will have more confirmed cases because we are looking. Public health is being very aggressive," she said.

World health officials say upwards of two billion people could be infected with the H1N1 virus if outbreak turns into pandemic over months or years. But they say it's too early to tell how widespread or severe the flu outbreak could become.