29 Jul 2009

Swine flu information campaign begins

5:40 pm on 29 July 2009

A television advertising campaign aimed at reducing the spread of swine flu begins on Wednesday.

Schools will also be sent posters, emphasising the importance of regular hand-washing, as part of the Ministry of Health campaign.

More than 2,700 cases of swine flu have been confirmed by the ministry, though the actual number of infections is much higher as testing is restricted to the most serious cases.

The ministry says 13 people who had contracted the illness have died, while the chief coroner says there have been 16 deaths in the community linked to the virus.

Deputy director of public health Dr Fran McGrath says there are signs of a levelling in the rate of people attending GP surgeries with flu symptoms.

However, she says this could be due to school pupils having been on holiday, which may have temporarily slowed the spread.

Hospital admissions and calls to Healthline have also eased.

Coroner not informed before body embalmed

Chief Coroner Judge Neil Maclean says he should have been told about a death at Wellington Hospital on Monday before the woman involved was embalmed.

Judge Maclean says the Wellington death involved swine flu and encephalitis, a brain swelling from a virus.

He says a post-mortem could have shed more light on the virus and the case will be raised with Capital and Coast District Health Board.

A DHB spokesman says it will not be commenting publicly, in accordance with the family's wishes.