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Chile decrees emergency measures after A/H1N1 infections reach 2,337
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-06-15 11:29
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has signed a decree that allows the Health Ministry to buy drugs and other materials needed to fight the A/H1N1 flu without going through the normal bidding process, local newspaper El Mercurio reported Sunday.

As the flu has killed two people and infected 2,335 others in Chile, the decree declares handling the disease as the top priority for the nation's health services.

Under the decree, the authorities will pay for those who go to clinics to seek medical treatment of the disease but whose health insurance does not cover the cost. The government can order to halt public events when the situation requires.

The decree also allows hospitals to call up students who are in their final year of medical, nursing, obstetrics and kinesiology courses to join the medical staff when necessary.

The new decree came after Bachelet Friday called on all Chileans to remain calm and to follow the instructions given by health officials after the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the A/H1N1 flu alert level to six, the highest for a pandemic.

"This (WHO's move) does not mean the illness has become more aggressive or lethal, but that it is spreading throughout the world," she said.

"Once again we are affected by something that comes from outside our borders. First it was the economic crisis and now it is the flu, but I want to tell you that we are going to win this battle," said the president.

"The important thing is to have a health system ready to have a response," she noted.

Chilean hospitals are separating patients with respiratory symptoms from the rest and dealing with them based on the severity of their symptoms.

The government is also distributing facemasks as a preventive measure.

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