Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Woman with swine flu dies in Northern Ireland

Influenza Virus
The Department of Health said people should remain vigilant

A woman with swine flu has died in Northern Ireland.

The woman had underlying medical conditions. Her death was announced in the Department of Health's weekly swine flu update.

To date, 20 people from Northern Ireland who had swine flu have died. Eighteen of them died in NI, one in England and one in Spain.

Overall, swine flu consultations, detections and hospitalisations are continuing to decline.

This was welcomed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride, although he said he was concerned this could "lead to complacency".

"I must reinforce the importance of vaccination of those in the at-risk groups," he said.

"One particular group which I must highlight are children aged from six months to five years. This age group has seen the highest rate of hospitalisations during the pandemic.

"The H1N1 virus is likely to be circulating next year, so take up the opportunity to protect your child for the future."

Dr McBride said experts were advising "it is likely that pandemic H1N1 (2009) will be the predominant 'flu virus in the 2010 influenza season".

"Currently, many people have felt reassured by the fall in the number of cases of swine flu and the relatively mild illness experienced by the majority of people," he said.

However, when the virus does return, deaths and hospitalisations should not be taken lightly since the illness is now preventable by vaccination."

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