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S. Korea lowers flu alert to lowest level as H1N1 spread subsides

All Headlines 17:10 March 31, 2010

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's health authorities said Wednesday they have decided to lower the alert level against the H1N1 virus by one notch as the spread of the flu is showing signs of quickly subsiding.

The move to lower the level to the lowest, "blue," in the nation's four-step alert system will take effect on Thursday, according to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.

The ministry said the disease is showing signs of subsiding thanks to a government drive to vaccinate citizens against the virus, which has killed a total of 243 people here since the first infection was reported in April last year.

"We have made the decision reflecting the fact that many indicators are showing that the new flu continues to subside," the ministry said in a press release.

South Korea first raised the alert level to "yellow" in May after the infection rate started to pick up. It was hiked further to "orange" and "red" in July and November, respectively, when the spread seemed to be getting out of control.

The government has stepped up efforts to stave off a pandemic by vaccinating its citizens against the disease. The flu shot started to be given in late October, with priority given to those considered at-risk, such as medical personnel and school children.

The ministry said that citizens should still keep up their personal hygiene to protect themselves from infection, and report to a hospital immediately if they feel symptoms such as fever, coughing or sore throat.

Senior citizens aged 65 or older, patients with chronic diseases and pregnant women were also asked to get vaccination shots by the end of March as a precaution, the ministry added.

sam@yna.co.kr
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