UN health officials are holding emergency talks on swine flu, amid speculation that the first global flu pandemic in 40 years will be declared.
The World Health Organization called the meeting after a steep rise in the number of cases in Australia.
Hong Kong on Thursday announced it was closing all its nurseries and primary schools for two weeks after 12 students tested positive for the virus.
The last global flu pandemic came in 1968 over the Hong Kong flu.
That pandemic killed about one million people.
A disease is classed as a pandemic when transmission between humans becomes widespread in two regions of the world.
The latest virus emerged in Mexico in April and since then thousands of cases have been confirmed throughout North and South America.
The H1N1 strain has spread to 74 countries but the WHO has resisted labelling the outbreak a full-blown pandemic.
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