Page last updated at 00:55 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 01:55 UK

First UK swine flu patient death

Prof. John Oxford: "We are preparing for a more severe outbreak in Autumn"

The swine flu virus has claimed its first victim in the UK, after a female patient died in a Scottish hospital.

The victim is understood to be a woman aged 38 who gave birth prematurely while being treated at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

The death is the first outside the Americas, where more than 140 people have died since the pandemic began.

Swine flu has now infected almost 500 people in Scotland alone, out of 1,261 cases in the UK.

The patient was one of 10 people being treated for swine flu in the greater Glasgow area.

A statement issued by the Scottish Government said: "With regret, we can confirm that one of the patients who had been in hospital, and had been confirmed as suffering from the H1N1 virus, has died today.

"The patient had underlying health conditions."

It's worth remembering that seasonal flu kills several thousand people in the UK each winter
Fergus Walsh, BBC medical correspondent

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "I'd like to express my condolences to the patient's family and friends. This is a tragedy for those concerned and they have my heartfelt sympathy.

"Tragic though today's death is, I would like to emphasise that the vast majority of those who have H1N1 are suffering from relatively mild symptoms."

The BBC's medical correspondent Fergus Walsh said: "Swine flu does present a slightly higher risk to those with existing respiratory illness, asthma, cardiovascular disease and obesity."

He added: "It's worth remembering that seasonal flu kills several thousand people in the UK each winter. The difference with H1N1 swine flu is that the virus is almost exclusively targeting people under 65."

Thirty-five new cases of swine flu in Scotland were confirmed on Sunday.

Together with 61 new cases in England and one case in Northern Ireland confirmed on Sunday, a total of 1,261 people have now caught the virus in the UK.

Another 486 possible UK cases are being investigated.

Chances remote

Virologist Professor John Oxford said that despite the death, the public should not panic.

"I still think the chances of picking up the virus are remote. It is not going to get any worse during the summer."

Professor Oxford said he did not think the the public had become complacent and said the country was well prepared in terms of anti-viral drugs.

The UK government outlined measures it has taken to combat the outbreak earlier this week.

Ministers urged people not to alter their normal behaviour and follow hand hygiene guidelines.



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