Thai schools closed to check flu

Thailand has reported 4,057 cases of H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, since mid-May and 24 deaths from the virus, 10 of them people from Bangkok.

“We will conduct a thorough cleaning of the schools during the closure to prevent further outbreaks,” Ponksak Semsan, permanent secretary-general of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said in a statement, announcing the closure from Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday that the H1N1 virus was “unstoppable” and gave drug makers full go-ahead to manufacture vaccines.

The WHO raised the global flu alert to the highest level on June 11, declaring a pandemic was under way from the H1N1 strain. Although the new disease has so far caused only mild symptoms in most patients, more than 400 people have died globally and experts fear the death toll could surge without a widespread immunisation programme.

Thailand’s government agreed during a meeting to place an order for two million doses of a vaccine, with delivery expected by December.

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