Swine flu death in Hawke's Bay

BY MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 09:04 12/08/2010

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LATEST: A Hawke's Bay man is believed to be the fifth person to die of swine flu in New Zealand this year.

A 22-year-old man, who had an underlying health condition, died in Hawke's Bay Hospital's intensive care unit on Tuesday morning.

Results from tests returned on Wednesday afternoon confirmed he had the pandemic influenza strain H1N1.

The man's death has been referred to the coroner.

A spokesman for the coroner said his finding was likely to be completed today.

The man's name would not be released until family had been informed of the finding.

The man's death came just hours before the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the swine flu pandemic was over and the world had entered a post-pandemic phase.

The step to downgrade followed advice given Tuesday by the WHO's advisory emergency committee of 15 external scientists, who heard presentations from health officials from countries reporting cases of H1N1, including New Zealand.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan said the virus had not gone away, and recognised that New Zealand was still experiencing the effects of a second wave of the H1N1 virus.

Deputy director of public health Darren Hunt yesterday said the country was still seeing a significant level of swine flu, and New Zealanders still needed to remain vigilant as there had been significant outbreaks of influenza in some areas.

''While some countries have seen H1N1 virus decline or crowded out by other strains, this is not the case in New Zealand,'' he said.

''The pandemic influenza strain is the predominant strain circulating this winter. We are seeing higher levels of hospitalisation in areas that weren't severely affected last year.

''To date, there had been over 300 people admitted to hospital this year with confirmed H1N1, which includes over 30 people admitted to intensive care,'' Dr Hunt said.

More than 200 people have been in hospital with swine flu this year, with nearly 60 admitted last week.

Five people are believed to have died from swine flu in New Zealand this year.

A Christchurch woman, 44, and a Wellington man, 38, died on Sunday.

The deaths followed those of a Northland man, 51, last month, and a Tauranga woman, 48, in June.

- with NZPA

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