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Fresh AH1N1 outbreak near China-Burma border

Dec 14, 2009 (DVB), Schools have closed and travel has been restricted in a Chinese town near to the Burmese border as doctors there warn of a fresh outbreak of the AH1N1 virus.

Widespread closure of schools began on Thursday last week and children have been told to wear masks.

"The outbreak mainly started in middle school. All the schools are to be closed for ten days," said a resident of Ruili, across the border from Burma's town of Muse, in northern Shan state.

"People do not travel much because of the alert and children are told to wear masks," he added. "I heard that inoculation jabs are to be given [today]."

The proximity of the outbreak to Burma has caused concern among residents of Muse. Medical checks are being stepped up at border checkpoints, where thousands of people cross between the two countries each day.

China's health department announced on Wednesday that more than 100,000 people have been infected with AH1N1 and 326 have died.

Burma has however been comparatively unaffected by it. So far only 64 people have been diagnosed with the virus since it was first detected in the country in June this year, and none have died.

A doctor at Muse general hospital said that despite no outbreak having occurred in the town, residents were being vigilant.

"Although children are attending school here from Ruili, we are carefully checking these children," he said. "When it comes to AH1N1 we have been holding talks and the like since April, and informing all with health education programmes."

"As soon as there is an outbreak like this, we get preventative measures ready," he added.

China's flu season is from December to March each year, and on average one million people are being given flu jabs each day. According to a World Health Organisation statement on 11 December, 9596 people have died around the world from AH1N1, which was first detected in people in April.

Reporting by Naw Say Paw