(For full coverage of the flu outbreak, click on [nFLU])
BEIJING, May 13 China on Wednesday confirmed its second case of the new H1N1 strain of flu, a man in eastern Shandong province who had recently arrived from Canada.
"The suspected case of A/H1N1 flu in Shandong has been confirmed, which is the second confirmed case in our country," the Health Ministry said in a statement on its website (www.moh.gov.cn).
The Chinese man flew from Canada, where he was studying, on May 8 and then took a train from Beijing to Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. He was immediately isolated and sent for treatment after reporting flu-like symptoms on the train.
The patient with China's first confirmed case of H1N1, a 30-year-old man who flew to the country from the United States via Japan, was recovering, Xinhua said on Tuesday.
China has vowed to disclose any human cases of the new fever promptly, while state-run newspapers have urged officials to be open and avoid the kind of cover-ups that brought panic during the SARS epidemic in 2003.
Experts have expressed concerns in recent weeks about the problems that could ensue in vast countries like China or India.
While there have been improvements in recent years, their health infrastructure is still seen as rudimentary and would be hard pressed to cope with any big rise in hospital admissions.
The highly lethal H5N1 bird flu virus is endemic in these areas and experts fear that a hybrid packed with killing power and capable of efficient human-to-human transmission may emerge if this new H1N1 strain were to be mixed up genetically with it.
Seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people globally and infects up to a third of the population every year. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills and Paul Tait)