11 Jul 2009

Warning against complacency as swine-flu deaths hit seven

9:22 pm on 11 July 2009

The number of swine-flu-related deaths in New Zealand has risen to seven, with the death of a Taranaki man.

The Ministry of Health says the man, who tested positive for the virus, had an underlying medical condition.

There have been 1555 officially confirmed cases of swine flu in New Zealand, but the actual number is much higher, as all but serious cases are no longer tested for.

Professor Mick Roberts of Massey University's institute of information and mathematical sciences is warning people not to underestimate the seriousness of the disease.

He says that early reports suggested lower swine-flu death rates in the United States and Canada than in Mexico, where the virus first broke out.

But that, he says, has been disproved by a Dutch research project with which he has been involved. It shows that about 0.4% of all confirmed cases in the US, Canada and Mexico have been fatal.

Britain's first death of previously healthy person

The newly reported death of a patient with the virus in the English county of Essex is the first case in the United Kingdom where the victim had no pre-existing health problems.

Previously, all 14 people in Britain who died from swine flu had significant illnesses or conditions that put them at high risk.