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Russia Curbs Student Trips To U.K. On Flu Fears

A map of the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic (WHO)
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's top health official has ordered authorities to stop groups of students travelling to Britain and other countries on foreign language courses to curb the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.

Gennady Onishchenko, the country's public health chief, ordered regional leaders "to take measures to prevent organized groups of children leaving the country until further notice," his press service said in a statement on July 28.

He also ordered officials to convince companies to cancel language tours, the statement said.

Russian agencies earlier quoted him as saying the move was specifically designed to prevent English-language tours to Britain.

Russia has 28 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu compared with 100,000 cases discovered every week in Britain, officials said.

"On balance health outweighs...knowledge of a language. It must be so," Onishchenko was quoted as saying on July 27 in the government-owned daily "Rossiiskaya gazeta."