H1N1 Virus: First Case In China, Mexican Kids Return To Schools
Despite being criticized for employing ‘excessive’ measures to control H1N1 Influenza A (swine) flu virus outbreak, China has confirmed its first case of H1N1 virus today. The victim is a 30-year-old man who traveled from the United States where he was studying at the University of Missouri. 130 people who traveled with the man have also been quarantined. Just recently China released a group of Canadian students from a five-day-long quarantine. None of the students had any symptoms of the disease. Some said the quarantine of healthy Canadian students was a radical step taken by China. However, as the first confirmed case of H1N1 virus in China shows, one can never be too risk-averse when it comes to flu outbreaks even with the extreme precautionary measures being taken.
As of May 11, 2009, W.H.O. reports that the worldwide death toll from H1N1 infection stands at 53. One can see the map of laboratory confirmed cases and deaths as reported by W.H.O here. Other sources are reporting that the global death toll has climbed to 61 after new deaths in Mexico have emerged recently.
Mainland China has confirmed its first case of the new H1N1 flu strain and quarantined 130 passengers who had travelled with the man who tested positive.
The patient, surnamed Bao, is a 30-year-old student and is in a stable condition, China's centre for disease control said on Monday.
According to state media, Bao was studying at the University of Missouri and left the US on Thursday on a flight via Tokyo to Beijing, from where he took another flight to Chengdu.
"The 30-year-old patient is now at the Chengdu Infectious Disease Hospital and people having close contact with him are also isolated for medical observation," the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Aside from the passengers on the man's flight, it said his girlfriend, father and a taxi driver had also been quarantined.
In 2003, Chinese health officials were criticised for their slow response to the outbreak of the Sars virus which first emerged in China and killed about 700 people.
Following the outbreak of the new H1N1 flu strain in Mexico, Chinese officials promised to implement strict reporting and quarantine measures to prevent the virus spreading to its shores.
Last week, officials in Hong Kong ended the quarantine of nearly 300 hotel guests and staff after a week under medical observation following a Mexican guest being confirmed with H1N1.
But parts of China's response to the new flu strain has been criticised as excessive, with the Mexican government complaining that several of its citizens have been discriminated against solely because of their nationality.
Meanwhile, Mexico is reversing its school shutdown in some regions. Today, millions of Mexican children will be returning to schools that have been thoroughly disinfected. However, some parents were cautious to send their children back to school just yet.
Millions of children, many wearing surgical masks, returned to scrubbed and disinfected classrooms Monday after a nationwide shutdown to curb the spread of swine flu in Mexico.
Six of Mexico's 31 states put off reopening schools for a week amid a rise in suspected flu cases in some regions, and a seventh ordered a one-day delay. Some parents were worried about sending their children back so soon.
In Mexico, crews worked through the weekend to cleanse school buildings and stock them with sanitary supplies as 25 million children prepared to resume their studies after authorities ordered schools closed in the Mexico City region on April 24 and then the whole country three days later.
The federal Education Department said Sunday that 88.9 percent of the nation's estimated 250,000 schools had been cleaned and disinfected.
Because of new suspected cases, the states of Jalisco, Hidalgo, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Chiapas and Zacatecas postponed the resumption of classes until May 18. Michoacan said its schools would reopen Tuesday. Some towns in Nayarit also kept students home.
The blow to tourism and production has been severe, however. Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa told the Spanish daily ABC that the crisis could cost her country 1 percent of gross domestic product this year.