Vivian Wai-yin Kwok, 05.12.09, 04:05 AM EDT
HONG KONG — Swine flu has reached China, and the government is trying to stop its spread.
Top Chinese leaders called for strict steps to be taken against the outbreak of swine flu after the country confirmed its first case of A/H1N1 influenza. .
Chinese President Hu Jintao ordered officials at all levels to take all emergency measures to prevent the disease from spreading
“We must attach great importance to the fact that the flu epidemic is still spreading in some countries and regions, and that China has discovered one case,” official news agency Xinhau cited Hu as saying Monday night after the first swine flu case was confirmed in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan Province.
A 30 year-old patient, a student surnamed Bao who recently returned from the United States, tested positive for the A/H1N1 influenza early on Monday. The patient was sent to Chengdu Infectious Disease Hospital under medical observation.
The State Council held an urgent meeting Monday to discuss further precautionary measures to stop the disease.
The confirmed carrier returned from the U.S. to Beijing via Tokyo on Northwest Airlines flight NW 29 early Saturday morning. He then flew from Beijing to Chengdu on Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8882 the same day, according to the Ministry of Health.
As soon as the case was confirmed, Beijing health authorities began trying to track down passengers and crew on the Tokyo-Beijing flight with Bao, and by Tuesday morning, 201 of the 233 people on NW 29 had been put under medical observation, the health ministry said.
Another 160 were on the plane Bao took to Chengdu. While two are still at large, the other 158 have been found and quarantined.
Bao stayed for more than nine hours at a hotel in Beijing’s Shunyi district before he got on the plane flying to Chengdu. All 103 guests and staff, including nine foreigners, were placed under a week-long “observation,” or quarantine, at the hotel.
The government of Hong Kong, a southern city in China, expects a mass outbreak to occur in Hong Kong about three weeks after the Chinese mainland reports its first swine flu case, given the heavy flow of people between the two places.
In other parts of the world, Japan reported its first four cases: a teacher and three students who had been on school trip to Canada. Australia reported its first confirmed case Saturday.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, the total global death toll reached 53, with 48 deaths in Mexico, three in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Costa Rica.
There were nearly 4,700 confirmed cases in 30 countries, including at least 1,626 in Mexico, 2,532 in the United States and 284 in Canada.
The WHO predicted up to 2 billion people could eventually be infected if swine flu turns into a pandemic.