New Zealand cases

Special report
New Zealand has three laboratory-confirmed cases and 13 probable cases among a group of students and a teacher who returned last Saturday from a school trip to Mexico, the centre of the epidemic.

Officials say another 136 people with flu symptoms may have the H1N1 virus but at least one of three students confirmed to have contracted the illness and was in quarantine for five days, said his symptoms had been milder than a normal winter flu.

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"For the last three days of the trip I stayed with a host family in Mexico City. I picked up a mild cough," he was quoted as saying in the Dominion Post newspaper on Thursday.

"And that's all I have felt the whole time. I have generally felt well. I was really surprised when I was told I had tested positive for swine flu," David Graham, 16, said.

None of the students have been reported as suffering severe cases of the flu.

In South Korea, health authorities announced two more "probable" cases in the country on Friday, bringing to three the total number in the country.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said all three probable cases were under quarantine but were in good condition.

Eighteen other people were undergoing tests, the centre said.

Precautions

H1N1: At a glance


Deaths: 
Twelve confirmed in Mexico out of 159 suspected. One death in the United States

Countries with confirmed cases: Mexico, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands

Countries with suspected cases: Australia, Brazil, France, Chile, Denmark, Colombia, Germany, Norway, South Korea, Guatemala

Influenza epidemics:
Annual influenza epidemics are thought to result in three to five million cases of severe illness and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths around the world, WHO says.

Officials across the region, determined to prevent fallout similar to the bird flu and Sars outbreaks that hit the region in recent years, warned people not to panic but to take precautions such as washing hands often and staying home if feeling sick.

The bird flu and Sars outbreaks killed hundreds of people, mostly in the region, and wreaked havoc on many economies.

Health officials in Australia, where there are more than 100 suspected cases, recommended people stockpile food in case of an outbreak.

"It's really just sensible advice about being prepared if you are sick and at home and staying in isolation, that you've got food there so that you don't need to go out and shop," Dr Jeannette Young, Queensland state's chief health officer, said.

Australia is allowing authorities to detain and disinfect people they suspect of carrying the disease while Singapore has ordered people returning from Mexico to stay home or at a hotel for seven days regardless of whether they have flu symptoms.

Japan has deployed military health staff to Narita airport to help screen travellers and China has ordered all travel agencies to suspend tours to Mexico.

In most places, people reporting fever, coughs and aches were being given antiviral medicine and told to stay home.