Swine flu on the rise in Asia-Pacific - 23 Jun 2009  
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The fatal strain is proving its virulence as it now has spread across 94 countries and sickened more than 52,000 people while causing the loss of over 230 lives.

Two more countries, Brunei and Iran, have diagnosed their first-ever occurrences of the swine flu.In the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand reported 258 new cases within the past week, and health officials said they expect a large increase in the coming months with currently an additional 728 suspected cases needing evaluation.

Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand each have approximately 300-some confirmed cases, while China and the Philippines have around 420 each. Even the South Pacific islands of Samoa, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea are affected. Like many other first-ever cases, travel to and from another country seem to be a factor of swine flu infection.

Meanwhile, Australia now has more than 2,400 confirmed cases after seeing over the weekend its first swine flu-related fatality, the second outside the Americas, of an Aboriginal artist. Concerns have been raised as to whether the virus could be more fatal for such remote communities with relatively high rates of other health problems.

We continue to be saddened by the reality of this distressing and costly trend. Our sympathies for those who have suffered loss as we pray for the quick recovery of persons stricken by the swine flu. Meanwhile, may governments worldwide implement the best policy to protect public health, by putting an end to raising animal operations and promoting the organic plant-based diet to fulfill a promise of vitality and well-being for all.