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US: New York State declares public health emergency over flu epidemic


NEW YORK, (Xinhua): Governor Andrew Cuomo on Saturday declared a state of public health emergency for all of New York State, in response to this year's increasingly severe flu season.

As of Saturday, a total of 19,128 cases of influenza have been reported in New York State for this season, far more than the 4, 404 cases that were reported in all of last season.

Also, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) received reports of 2,884 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza by Jan.5, compared with 1,169 in total cases of hospitalization in 2011.

"We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City, " Governor Cuomo said in a news release.

"Therefore, I have directed my Administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers - children and adults alike - have access to critically needed flu vaccines."

While urging New Yorkers who have yet to receive a flu shot to schedule one immediately, Cuomo also announced that the state DOH would launch a broad promotion of flu immunization by working closely with county, regional and private health care partners as well as local health departments, in a bid to ensure all New Yorkers know the importance of - and have easy access to - flu shots.

To date, 20 children across the United States, including two in New York State, have died as a result of the outbreak of the seasonal influenza this year.

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