Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 13:02 UK

NHS confirms 31st swine flu death

A person from the West Midlands has died after contracting swine flu, the NHS has said.

The death of the person, who had tested positive for the H1N1 virus, was being investigated, NHS Walsall said.

It is the third confirmed death connected to the virus in the West Midlands and the 31st in the UK.

It comes as UK chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said the swine flu pandemic had presented the NHS with its "biggest challenge in a generation".

No further details have been confirmed about the latest death and whether the victim had underlying medical conditions.

'Unprecedented speed'

A post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the cause of death, the NHS said.

A 15-year-old girl who did have underlying health issues was revealed as the 30th British victim linked to the outbreak on Tuesday after she died in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that more than 700 people worldwide are now thought to have died after contracting the virus.

The previous reported figure was 429 worldwide deaths on 6 July.

The WHO said in a briefing note last week that "further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new countries, is considered inevitable".

It said the current pandemic had spread around the world with "unprecedented speed".

In the UK, an estimated 55,000 people are being newly diagnosed with the virus each week.

Sameerah Ahmad, six, from Birmingham was the West Midland's first swine flu fatality.

A second person with the virus died last week, the NHS said.

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