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Schools Close as Spike in Swine Flu Cases Hits Japan

In a sudden surge that took Asian health officials by surprise, the Japanese health ministry confirmed on Monday at least 125 new cases of the A(H1N1) virus — or swine flu — in the country's western prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo. Officials have shut down around 1,000 schools since many of the infected were high-school students. Japan, along with the United Kingdom and Spain, is now one of the few countries outside of North America where the World Health Organization (WHO) fears sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus could lead to the onset of a full-blown pandemic. "We must respond calmly and appropriately," warned Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at a press conference Monday morning.
 
 

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