05/20/2009, 00.00
ASIA – WHO
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Swine Flu: 5 billion dollars of vaccines for 1000 new cases per day

Alarm in Japan: until now 191 people have been infected, but the real danger is the risk of rapid infection in Tokyo home to over 36 million people. As it stands 10 thousand people have been infected, 79 are dead. The first confirmed case in Taiwan.

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Five billion doses of a vaccine ready within a year to counter a possible swine flu “pandemic”. That is what was announced today by the World Health Organisation in Geneva (WHO), as the transmission of the virus hits 100 cases a day.

Japan is the country where the virus appears to be most aggressive: in 24 hours 30 news cases were confirmed in Osaka and Kobe, on the west coast of Honshū island. The number of people infected by the new flu is 191; authorities have closed over 4400 schools throughout the region.  So far no cases have been reported in Tokyo, an urban jungle that is home to over 36 million people, where experts predict that it is “almost certain” cases of infection will occur today.

The World Health Organisation has confirmed at least 8,480 human cases of swine flu in nearly 40 countries, including 79 known deaths. Experts are keeping the alarm level at 5 – first declared on April 29th last – which means a pandemic is “imminent”.  Over the next few days it could pass to level 6 – the highest – above all if the virus continues to spread at the current speed witnessed in Japan, where an “independent epicentre of contagion” has developed.

This morning Taiwan also confirmed its first case of swine flu: a 52 year old foreigner, a doctor on board a cruise ship, that reached the Island May 18th from Hong Kong.  Health authorities on the island explain that the man is in “good condition” and “is recovering thanks to medical treatment”.

Today in Geneva UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon intervened on the issue, asking member states to remain “vigilant and attentive to even the smallest signs” of the virus spreading.  At the moment there is no one vaccine against the A (H1N1) virus,  which although not very aggressive could become “highly dangerous” should it combine genetically with Avian flu (H5N1).

 

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