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- Ukraine's Security Council to discuss flu epidemic situation
The death toll from the ongoing flu epidemic in Ukraine has reached 354 since the start of October, the country's health ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said over 1.54 million people have been infected since the outbreak began.
The number of officially confirmed swine flu deaths in the country has reached 17, with 255 people infected.
Earlier, 328 flu deaths were reported across the country, with a total of 1.46 million people infected. There were 15 swine flu deaths registered in the country as of November 18, with 166 people infected.
Ukrainian health officials say the situation has stabilized, and that quarantine measures imposed by the government in nine western provinces in late October in an attempt to curb the spread of flu may be lifted by the end of the week.
In early November, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) chief, Raisa Bohatyryova, said there were "constitutional prerequisites" for a state of emergency amid the flu epidemic.
A state of emergency could delay the presidential election scheduled for January 17, 2010 until May.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said she sees no need for such measures.
The Ukrainian parliament has approved the allocation of 1 billion hryvnias ($125 million) for measures to fight swine and seasonal flu.
However, President Viktor Yushchenko, who earlier requested help from other countries to stem the flu outbreak, has not signed the allocation plan, saying it would accelerate inflation and cause a decline in Ukraine's standard of living.
Yulia Tymoshenko said the president's refusal to allocate money would impede governmental efforts to fight the epidemic.
Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, as well as Party of Regions leader and former premier Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the previous vote to Yushchenko following the 2004 "orange revolution" are among the 16 candidates to run in the Ukrainian presidential election.
KIEV, November 20 (RIA Novosti)
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