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Page last updated at 06:20 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 07:20 UK

Mumbai swine flu shutdown begins

A commuter on a suburban train in Mumbai
Public concern over swine flu is on the rise in India

Schools, colleges and cinemas in the Indian city of Mumbai have temporarily closed in a bid to limit the spread of the H1N1 virus.

Schools and colleges will remain shut for a week and cinemas for three days.

The city, India's commercial capital, is in Maharashtra state, which has seen 11 of India's 19 swine flu deaths - three in Mumbai alone.

Authorities say that public pressure led them to order the closures, but stressed that people should not panic.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told a television channel that the temporary closure was "only a prevention measure".

"There is no panic...we are going according to the wishes of the people and that is why we are shutting down for about seven days," he told CNN-IBN.

Three of the seven days are holidays, including the weekend, so the shutdown is effectively for less than a week, Mr Chavan said.

A number of Bollywood film releases on Friday have been delayed after cinemas in the capital of the country's booming film industry shut their doors.

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.

A total of 19 people have died of swine flu in seven cities in India, authorities say.

The swine flu (H1N1) virus first emerged in Mexico in April and has since spread across the world.

Official reports say there have been more than 177,000 cases globally and 1,126 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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