Officials: China Faces Grim Situation as H1N1 Escalates

China faces a grim situation in containing the H1N1 strain of flu, as schools start up again and the number of domestic cases, as well as clusters of cases, rises, China's Minister of Health said on Tuesday.

China has reported 5,592 cases of H1N1 flu, from which 3,852 people have recovered. No-one has died in China, although a patient in Shanghai is in a coma, with multiple organ failure.

"There are some recent developments in H1N1 in China that mean we are facing a grim situation," said Chen Zhu, one of only two ministers in China who do not belong to the Communist Party.

He listed a rapid surge in domestic cases, after an initial phase when most cases in China were of foreigners who arrived with the disease. Since the beginning of September, there has also been a spike in the number of clusters of outbreaks, which now number 128.

Finally, there has been an increase in the number of confirmed H1N1 cases among people with flu symptoms.

Chen said the Shanghai patient, as well as another serious case in Zhejiang province, had stabilized.

China plans to begin rolling out a vaccination program this week, Chen said, with priority going to children, health care workers, the military and the public security apparatus.

"With 1.3 billion people, we are limited in our ability to provide vaccines for all," Chen said.

"Therefore, we have to continue with protective measures, especially the ability of the population to protect itself."

The Chinese government on Friday ordered 7.3 million doses of vaccines for the H1N1 strain of flu from domestic firms Sinovac Biotech and Hualan Biological.