BEIJING, Aug 15 — The death toll from the A(H1N1) flu pandemic continues to rise as the new virus persists in its advance around the world, health officials say.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said in its daily situation report on Wednesday that 873 new A(H1N1) flu cases were reported in the European Union and European Free Trade Association countries. The number of cases there now totals 35,025, according to a report by China’s Xinhua new agency.
The European Union Health Security Committee has agreed on a coordinated EU approach to A(H1N1) flu regarding school closures and monitoring of travellers.
The French government has prepared to close schools on a case-by-case basis if the A(H1N1) flu becomes a nationwide pandemic, Education Minister Luc Chatel said on Wednesday.
France so far has recorded around 1,000 A(H1N1) flu cases and one death.
The government fears that the spread of the virus could accelerate when the new school year starts this fall.
In Greece, the A(H1N1) flu cases totalled 1,424 as of Wednesday, including 422 additional cases confirmed during the past week.
Finland on Wednesday confirmed the second case of the flu in its Defence Forces, according to a statement released by the military.
In Latin America, where the flu began in April, more deaths have been reported in the past two weeks.
Mexico has registered 17 more deaths over the past two weeks, raising the total death toll there to 163, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said Thursday.
He also said the government is ready to apply the first A(H1N1) flu vaccines to cope with the virus.
Brazil remains the country with the third largest number of A(H1N1) deaths, after the United States and Argentina. It registered three more deaths from A(H1N1) flu Thursday, raising the death toll to 277.
The Brazilian Health Ministry has decided to postpone polio immunizations scheduled for Aug 22, fearing that crowding in hospitals could lead to more flu infections.
Meanwhile, Chile confirmed a total of 105 A(H1N1) deaths on Thursday while the number in Argentina stood at 386 on Wednesday.
Nicaragua on Wednesday confirmed its first A(H1N1) influenza death, a 30-year-old woman, the Health Ministry said.
The disease also was spreading to high officials in Latin America.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is being quarantined at home and is in stable condition after testing positive for the A(H1N1) virus, official sources said Wednesday.
Ecuadorian Policy Minister Ricardo Patino was also diagnosed with the flu, the Health Ministry reported Thursday. He is now being treated with anti-viral medicine at home.
In the northern hemisphere, the A(H1N1) virus continued to spread across the hard hit United States.
The death toll from the A(H1N1) flu by Wednesday had reached 104 in California, the most populous state in the country, with 1,057 people hospitalised, the California Department of Public Health said.
Meanwhile, the state of Lousiana, one of the few states that had reported no deaths or few confirmed cases of the flu virus, confirmed on Thursday its first death from the disease.
The deadly virus has also hit Middle Eastern countries. Israel registered its eighth victim of the pandemic on Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.
Saudi Arabia confirmed two new deaths from the flu Thursday, bringing the total death toll there to 11. The Palestinians have confirmed only one death so far.
In Africa, the situation is more delicate given widespread poverty and diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis that make people more vulnerable to the virus.
The South African government has launched an intensive information campaign to help people cope with the pandemic, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said Thursday.
He also said the country so far had 1,910 confirmed cases of A(H1N1) flu and three deaths.
The pace of the virus has not eased in Asia, either.
Malaysia reported on Thursday seven more deaths from A(H1N1) flu, bringing the total number of deaths there to 51.
On Tuesday, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry announced 16 more A(H1N1) – related deaths, raising the country’s death toll to 97.
The flu has so far killed 22 people in Bangkok, 10 in Singapore, and two in Vietnam.
On the other side of the Pacific, Jim Bishop, Australia’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that the number of A(H1N1)-related deaths in his country has reached 102.
He said 449 people are hospitalized with the flu across the country, 109 of them in intensive care.
Even the small island nation of Tuvalu has not escaped the pandemic. Its first six cases of influenza A(H1N1) were confirmed Thursday, Radio Tuvalu reported.
The flu has caused 1,462 deaths worldwide since it was first detected in April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday. – Bernama