Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thailand reports fifth swine flu-related death

07/01/2009 | 05:15 PM

BANGKOK — Thai health officials on Wednesday announced the deaths of two more people afflicted with swine flu, bringing the country's total to five.

Thailand is one of three countries in the Asia Pacific region which have reported fatalities from swine flu. The others are Australia with seven dead, and the Philippines, with one.

The latest victims were a 47-year-old man in the capital Bangkok, and a 43-year-old woman in the eastern province of Chonburi, said Paichit Warachit, deputy permanent secretary of Thailand's Public Health Ministry.

He said that both had underlying medical problems — including a kidney infection in the man, and diabetes in the woman — prior to contracting the virus, which further weakened their immune system.

It was unclear where they contracted the flu. Thailand has reported 1,473 swine flu cases, with 21 still in the hospital although none are critically ill.

According to the latest figures available from the UN's World Health Organization, as of Monday there were a total of 70,893 confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide, with 311 deaths.

The country with the most confirmed cases in the Asia-Pacific region is Australia with more than 4,000.

In the Philippines, officials said swine flu cases in have jumped to 1,709 and most of the patients have already recovered.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement Wednesday that only 224 of the patients remain under treatment. One woman died last month.

Duque said the government is bolstering efforts to prevent more deaths by ensuring that all government hospitals have well-equipped isolation wards and can treat high-risk patients — pregnant women, the very young and elderly, and those with preexisting medical conditions.

In New Zealand, health officials reported a rise of 58 confirmed swine flu cases Wednesday, taking the nationwide tally to 711 — some 326 more than a week ago.

"The virus is expected to cause many more infections than are seen with seasonal or winter flu because most people have no or little immunity to it," said deputy director of public health, Dr. Fran McGrath, adding that "infections can be expected to continue for months yet."

So far, New Zealand has seen only two people hospitalized in critical condition with the virus, one of them a woman with no other serious health conditions. - AP

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