Millions could get swine flu in China: official
Tens of millions of people could be infected with swine flu in China in the coming months, a health ministry official said Friday, adding that fatalities would be "unavoidable", AFP reported.
"According to expert estimates, our nation during the autumn season might have several tens of millions infected with A(H1N1)," Liang Wannian, deputy director of the ministry's health emergency office, told a press conference.
Liang said of that total, "half of them could experience clinical symptoms, several millions will seek medical help, and serious cases and fatalities will be unavoidable."
The spread of A(H1N1) influenza in China has gathered pace as the autumn months approach, Liang said, with over half of the nation's nearly 7,000 cases detected between August 24 and September 10.
Of those cases, nearly 95 percent were contracted within China, whereas the vast majority of cases reported from June to August originated abroad, he said.
"The situation we face is not optimistic," Liang said, noting that the virus had been found in all of China's 31 provinces and regions.
"We are facing severe challenges in our prevention and control work."
China has so far reported no swine flu deaths.
The State Council, or cabinet, on Thursday issued new regulations on handling A(H1N1) outbreaks, ordering the ministries of health and education, and the food and drug administration to coordinate prevention and control.
Since June, China has witnessed over 200 "large-scale" outbreaks of swine flu with over 85 percent of them occurring in schools or at school-related activities, Liang said.
China is soon expected to launch a nationwide vaccination programme. The World Health Organization has said it could be the first country in the world to do so.