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Cablegate: H1n1 Rises Sharply in French Pacific Ocean Territories

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OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDF RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHMA
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DE RUEHFR #1175 2391557
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271557Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7043
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
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RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
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TAGS: KFLU TBIO CASC FR XV
SUBJECT: H1N1 rises sharply in French Pacific Ocean Territories

1. (SBU) New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna
have been hit hard by H1N1 in recent weeks, making up the bulk of
all French H1N1 related deaths and infections. The two deaths last
week in New Caledonia spark concern as neither victim had any known
pre-existing medical conditions. Contacts at the French Ministry of
Health informed the Embassy that France will be sending an Institute
of Public Health (InVS) investigation team to New Caledonia to
assess the situation and will advise on findings.

2. (U) Incidence of H1N1 rose sharply in all French territories in
the Pacific Ocean which are currently experiencing winter and normal
flu season. Those hit the hardest include New Caledonia, French
Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna.

New Caledonia: The New Caledonia health authorities estimate 35,000
cumulative cases of H1N1 since the beginning of the epidemic, which
is 14 percent of the population. Most infections have been through
secondary contact. The southern province and in particular the
capital, Noumea, is the earliest and most severely affected. Since
the beginning of the epidemic, there have been five deaths including
two without known risk factors 2 deaths all since August 17. New
Caledonian authorities have downgraded their initial response to an
H1N1 potential epidemic, cancelling the policy of closing any school
in which a case was reported. The New Caledonia authorities stated
that their reasoning was that it had become obvious that H1N1 could
not be stopped and to close down whole schools had become
"impractical" and "irrelevant." This response was echoed across
French Polynesia.

French Polynesia: The French Polynesia health authorities note a
sharp increase in H1N1 cases, an estimated 10,000 cases since the
beginning of the epidemic, representing eight percent of the
population. The five archipelagos and most islands have been
affected. Since August 12, three deaths have been reported from
individuals with risk factors (two women and an infant.)

Wallis and Futuna: The epidemic is growing quickly in Wallis and
Futuna. Individual medical consultations have increased 50 percent
from the previous week, four cases were hospitalized. Two thousand
cases were noted by local health authorities for the week of 17
August, an incidence of 15 percent of the population. These numbers
are underestimated due to the saturation of the healthcare system
reported the local health agency. No deaths have been reported.

According to press reports, cruise ships from Australia have
triggered scares in the French Pacific territories, after it was
discovered that some passengers testing positive for H1N1 had not
been quarantined, according to press reports.

3. (SBU) It is unknown if the spread of infection is related to the
onset of winter and the normal flu season. The French government is
closely monitoring the situation and has sent health officials to
New Caledonia and French Polynesia to contain the outbreak, provide
medical aid, and seek out lessons learned. An investigation team
will be deployed this week to assess the pandemic phenomena in the
region. The Embassy remains in contact with the Institute of Public
Health (InVS) and will provide situation updates. According to
French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot, what is being seen in
these territories could foreshadow what will take place this fall in
metropolitan France.

4. (U) In metropolitan France the spread of H1N1 remains limited.
From 17 to 23 August, the incidence of 28,000 consultations for flu
remains below the epidemic threshold.

5. (U) Influenza activity continues to increase in Martinique, while
decreases in Guadeloupe. On the island of Reunion, influenza
activity in continues to grow and is well above the maximum activity
observed in the same period over the last five years.

RIVKIN

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