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Iraq To Shut Thousands Of Schools Over H1N1 Flu

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Iraq will temporarily shut down thousands of schools in two provinces and some in Baghdad after discovering 36 new cases of the H1N1 flu virus, Iraqi officials said.

Iraq's Health Ministry has discovered the flu in 22 secondary school girls and nine of their relatives in Wasit Governorate, four students in Baghdad, and a man in Dhi Kar Governorate, General Director of Public Health Ihsan Jaafar said.

Provincial authorities in both provinces said they would briefly shut schools to prevent the virus' spread. The officials said around 1,200 Wasit schools would close for a week and some 1,500 schools in Dhi Kar for 10 days from October 21.

Wasit officials said they would also close universities. In Baghdad, two schools have already been shut over the virus. In June, Iraq confirmed its first cases of the flu in members of the women's national basketball team.

Most people who catch the virus suffer mild symptoms, but H1N1 can be dangerous for some people with existing health conditions or otherwise healthy young adults.