Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Another swine flu death announced

Influenza Virus
Details of swine flu related deaths are now only released once a week

Another person in Northern Ireland who had tested positive for swine flu has died, the Department of Health has said.

So far 13 people from Northern Ireland have died after contracting the virus.

In its weekly swine flu bulletin the department said the person who died had "underlying health conditions".

There has been a 9% decrease in the consultation rates from GPs over the past week and a drop in the number of people in hospital with the virus.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey extended his condolences to the family of the latest person with the virus to die.

"We should all now respect their privacy and allow them to grieve in peace for their loved one," he said.

WEEKLY NI SWINE FLU FIGURES

Anti-viral prescriptions down 52% to 2,837

New hospitalised cases down from 87 to 50

GP consultations for "flu and flu-like illness" down 9%
Out-of-hours calls decreased by 37% to 663

Age group worst affected still five to 14-year-olds but symptoms are relatively minor

He said the fall in consultation rates was "encouraging and suggests that our preparations are working".

"However, swine flu still continues to circulate widely in the community and it is vital that we do not become complacent," he added.

Eleven of the deaths occurred in Northern Ireland, while one person died in England and another in Spain.

GP consultation rates for combined flu and flu like illnesses dropped from from 242.9 to 221 per 100,000 population, with the rates remaining highest in the 5-14 year age group.

The pandemic has seen a cumulative total of 527 people in Northern Ireland hospitalised with swine flu. This week there were 50 new cases being treated in hospital.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said while the decreases were encouraging, vigilance was still needed.

"While figures are encouraging, we should be mindful of countries like the Ukraine which are experiencing high levels of swine flu related hospitalisations and deaths," he said.

"This should serve as a reminder to us all to be vigilant and take every measure possible to protect ourselves against the virus."

Officials in Ukraine have closed schools for three weeks, imposed travel restrictions and limited public events as the country battles to stop the spread of swine flu.

More than 60 people are believed to have died of respiratory problems in one week, and the measures are among the toughest to be implemented in Europe to tackle the virus.

It is not clear whether all the deaths were caused by swine flu, but the news has sparked panic, and people have started wearing masks across the country.



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