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South Korea ‘probably’ has first case

South Korea yesterday reported its first probable case of swine flu after positive preliminary tests on a woman who had recently returned from a trip to Mexico.
"A probable case of swine influenza was confirmed Tuesday," the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement in Seoul.
It said the 51-year-old, who returned to Korea Sunday, has been isolated in hospital for treatment and surveillance.
All 315 others on the same flight were being traced and tested, while 40 people who work with the woman have been given anti-viral treatments.
"Test results are substantial enough to classify the patient as a probable swine flu case," said Kang Chun, the KCDC's influenza virus team leader.
The centre said the case would not be officially confirmed until tests are conducted at the US Centers for Disease Control, which would take about one week.
The KCDC said the woman, who lives in Gyeonggi province surrounding Seoul, was coughing and felt chills before taking her flight and reported to health authorities on her return.
She was among three travellers to return recently from trips to Mexico. The other two were found not to carry the swine influenza virus after being quarantined at their homes.
The agriculture ministry announced a ban on live pig imports from North America as a precaution and said imports from other regions would be subject to detailed tests.
Last year South Korea imported 1,800 pigs from countries like the United States, Canada and France for breeding purposes, Yonhap news agency said. This year, 69 animals have been imported from Canada.
The likely human swine flu death toll in Mexico, the epicentre of the outbreak, now stands at 152. The World Health Organisation has raised its flu pandemic alert level.
The United States has confirmed 44 cases of swine flu but no deaths.
Officials in Seoul said 7,000-10,000 people had returned from the United States since April 17, including some whose journeys originated in Mexico.
The KCDC said it would intensify inspections of inbound travellers.
"Rapid antigen tests will be carried out on inbound travellers who are suffering from fever or symptoms of respiratory illness," it said in a statement.
"If confirmed through laboratory tests, patients will immediately be isolated. Travellers to Mexico and the US will be educated on the prevention of swine influenza."
Officials said the country would double its stockpile of Tamiflu and other anti-influenza drugs to a quantity sufficient to treat five million people.
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