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The government is set to relax its swine flu guidelines so people with mild symptoms can recuperate at home instead of in a hospital, according to health ministry sources.

The ministry will hear expert opinion and officially decide to revise the current rules later this week so more resources can be devoted to keeping the new H1N1 strain from reaching people at risk of developing severe symptoms, the sources said.

The government currently requires municipalities with low numbers of infections to hospitalize all cases regardless of the severity of symptoms.

In areas with a high infection rate, the government allows people with mild symptoms to recuperate at home.

Following the revision, people with mild symptoms will remain at home in principle. But local authorities will ask people with underlying conditions to consider hospitalization because they are at risk of becoming seriously ill, the sources said.

Changes to the guidelines will also enable all medical institutions to treat people infected with swine flu by introducing measures to separate those infected with the flu from people who have not contracted it, they said.

Currently, medical institutions with “fever clinics” can treat flu cases in areas where only a small number of infections have been confirmed.

Japan has had more than 650 swine flu cases. Several more were confirmed Wednesday, including the first in Ibaraki Prefecture.

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