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Philippines closes Congress after H1N1 virus death

MYT 7:30:48 PM

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines closed down the lower house of Congress for five days on Tuesday and sent about 3,000 workers home after cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported in the offices, officials said.

A 49-year-old woman who died last week from symptoms exacerbated by the flu was a staff member on a congressional committee, said Ramon Roque, a doctor and deputy secretary-general of the House of Representatives.

A health worker uses an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of students, as a precaution against the H1N1 virus, before they enter their classroom at the Emilio Aguinaldo University in Manila June 23, 2009. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

The legislature is not currently in session.

Roque said the House was taking steps to clean and sanitise the offices to prevent the spread of the virus as well as prepare the facility for the resumption of sessions and the president's state of the nation speech next month.

The health department said 28 more positive influenza A (H1N1) virus cases were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of new flu virus cases in the country to 473 and one reported death.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said about 85 percent of the new flu virus cases in the country had recovered, but more schools have suspended classes due to a rising number of cases on campuses.

Nearly 30 universities, some state colleges and elementary schools have been closed for up to 10 days since the flu virus first surfaced in the country on May 21.

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