Japan confirms 3 cases of new flu strain

Fri May 8, 2009 5:47pm EDT

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(For full coverage of the flu outbreak, click on [nFLU]) (Updates with ministry confirmation)

TOKYO, May 9, (Reuters) - Three Japanese males who had spent time in Canada have been confirmed to have the new strain of flu, the first confirmed cases in the country, a Health Ministry official said.

The three are a man in his 40s and two teenagers who had returned to Japan via Detroit after spending time in Canada, the official said. Kyodo news agency said they were a high school teacher and two students who had been on a school trip and returned on Friday.

The three were in hospital and 49 others who arrived in Japan on the same flight have been taken to a facility near Tokyo's Narita airport, the ministry official said.

The global spread of the virus has kept alive concern over a possible pandemic, although scientists say this strain does not appear more deadly than seasonal flu. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota and Linda Sieg)