16 Jun 2009

First swine flu death confirmed in Britain

4:46 pm on 16 June 2009

Britain recorded its first death from swine flu on Sunday after a patient suffering from the disease died in Scotland, health officials said.

The patient was in hospital and had underlying health conditions, the Scottish government said in a statement.

The World Health Organisation declared an influenza pandemic on Thursday and advised governments to prepare for a long-term battle against the virus.

The Scottish government said no further details about the patient would be released until later, to allow the family time to grieve.

The patient is thought to be one of 10 people hospitalised with the H1N1 virus across the country, out of a total 498 confirmed cases there. Across Britain as a whole, a total of 1,226 people have been infected.

Meanwhile, Canadian authorities have confirmed the sixth death of a patient with the virus. Officials said the woman, who was in her 50s, had also suffered from "a chronic disease".

Swine flu has so far infected almost 30,000 people in 74 countries, according to the latest WHO figures, which also put the death toll at 145.

Most of the flu deaths have occurred in Mexico, the source of the outbreak, while the United States has the highest number of cases with more than 13,000 people infected.

In Australia, the government said on Sunday it was ready to ratchet up its swine flu alert as the national tally hit 1,458 cases. It is the worst-hit Asia-Pacific country, with the fifth highest number of cases worldwide.

In New Zealand, 109 cases were confirmed as of Tuesday.