Singapore’s Health Ministry has confirmed two more cases of swine flu, bringing the island-nation’s total infections to 17 since last month.

A ministry statement says a 40-year-old Indian man working in Singapore and a 25-year-old Malaysian female flight attendant for Singapore Airlines arrived from Melbourne last week and tested positive late Monday.

They are in stable condition in the communicable diseases center at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The statement issued Tuesday advises Singaporeans to avoid nonessential travel to Melbourne, the Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka, the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Chile.

The World Health Organization says the disease has spread to 73 countries and infected more than 25,000 people, causing 139 deaths.

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The Philippine health secretary says the number of swine flu cases in the country has risen to 54.

Francisco Duque III said Tuesday that eight new cases have been confirmed over the past 24 hours. They include six more students of Manila’s De La Salle University, where seven others _ including two Japanese _ had been infected.

The two other new cases were a student from a nearby college and one foreigner. He said all the new and previous patients have exhibited only mild symptoms.

He said he has discussed with the World Health Organization representative in the Philippines a strategy that will focus on early detection and treatment, with only the high-risk patients hospitalized. The rest will be managed at home.

GlaxoSmithKline has signed a deal with Shenzhen Neptunus to manufacture influenza vaccines for the Chinese market.

Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will take a 40% stake in a joint venture and put in cash and assets equivalent to £21 million. Shenzhen Neptunus will hold a 60% stake but GSK is expected to buy additional shares and obtain a majority interest in the JV within the next two years. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009, subject to local regulatory approval, and comes seven months after the firms signed “an exclusive cooperation agreement” as a preliminary step to forming a JV.

Jean Stephenne, president of GSK Biologicals, said the alliance enables the firm to “build new vaccines capability in a critical emerging market such as China”. The JV will gain access to “specific local influenza antigens and make available new vaccines to benefit public health in China and neighbouring territories”, he added.

The alliance will develop and manufacture vaccines for seasonal, pre-pandemic and pandemic influenza in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Shenzhen Neptunus will provide additional local manufacturing capacity and R&D expertise, GSK noted and both companies will provide further investment to make the vaccines.

The deal makes much sense for GSK as it expands its presence in emerging markets and has been set up at a time when the threat of a swine flu pandemic prevails. The company has received a number of governmental orders to produce a vaccine for the A(H1N1) flu strain.

FIFE now has five confirmed cases of swine flu, among them a female member of staff at Carnegie College.

The latest case was confirmed yesterday (Monday), following three cases which had already been confirmed in the Kingdom over the weekend.

NHS Fife also stated yesterday that another woman, who had been treated in isolation at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, has now been discharged.

Two of the cases confirmed over the weekend are travel-related, although the latest one is not. All the individuals have mild symptoms and are being treated at home.

The number of swine flu cases in Scotland now stands at 232, after 43 new cases were confirmed yesterday.

Dr Edward Coyle, NHS Fife director of public health, said, “The public can help in reducing the spread of infection by following good personal hygiene.

“This includes washing hands with soap and warm water and using a tissue to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing.

Symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1) include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, joint pain and headache.

“Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact NHS 24 on 08454 242424.”

Delhi, June 9: The Indian capital confirmed its second case of the swine flu Monday, bringing the toll of infected persons to 11.

The victim this time is a 60-year-old woman who got the infection while taking care of her 35-year-old son who tested positive for the flu on Sunday.

“She complained of mild symptoms and her samples tested positive. All their contacts are being administered medicine to prevent the spread of the disease,” said an official from the Health Ministry.

It may be noted that the mother and son duo are currently on ‘Oseltamvir’, a drug that blocks the influenza virus from spreading between cells in the body.

Reportedly, a suspected case of a 25-year-old man from Uttar Pradesh who traveled to Delhi from Kuwait has also been found and he has been quarantined against the flu.

Search on for U.S. man
Currently, the health ministry is on a search operation of the American national from whom the virus has come to the capital. He was the co-passenger of the 35-year-old Delhi resident on the Air India flight from the U.S.

According to the ministry, the man had been staying in a hotel till June 6. After that he moved out and now they are tracking him down.

Nation well equipped for the flu
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “We are worried about the situation but there is no reason for panic.”

Currently, there are only two laboratories in the country for testing the swine flu virus at Delhi and Pune but the ministry promises 16 by the end of this week.

There is also affirmation and assurance from the ministry that they are fully equipped to face the flu and there is abundant stock of Tamiflu, the vaccine for the virus.

Two hundred ventilators have been distributed to central government and state hospitals in vulnerable states for better treatment of the virus.

Citizens are also being requested to restrain from unnecessary travel to contaminated countries and to intimate health authorities at once in case any symptoms of the flu are observed.