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Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 11:10 UK

Mumbai closes schools in flu fear

Indian schoolgirls in Mumbai
Schoolchildren in Mumbai have been given protective masks to wear

Indian authorities in the city of Mumbai say they will close all schools, colleges and cinemas as they seek to control the spread of the H1N1 virus.

Schools and colleges will remain shut for a week, officials said.

The city, India's commercial capital, is in Maharashtra state, which has seen 11 of India's 15 swine flu deaths - three in Mumbai alone.

Health officials say there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu across India.

Suresh Wandile, spokesman for chief minister of Maharashtra, said the closures would begin on Thursday.

"We have seen a rise in cases of swine flu cases in the state. We need to take care, hence these precautionary measures," the AFP news agency reported him as saying.

'Many threats'

Theatres in the capital of the country's booming film industry - home to 18 million people - will also close for three days.

The move by the Mumbai authorities came despite recent comments from India's Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has stressed that swine flu is just one of many threats to health in the country.

"It is not the only virus we have in our country. We have much more fatal diseases, much more costly diseases," he said in comments on Monday.

The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread to at least 74 countries.

Official reports say there have been nearly 30,000 cases globally and 141 deaths, with figures rising daily.

Most of India's confirmed cases of swine flu have been among people who have returned from overseas travel.

Passenger screening has been introduced across India's main 22 international airports.



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