Three New Zealand deaths linked to swine flu

Last updated 15:00 04/07/2009

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Swine Flu

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New Zealand appears to have had its first swine flu deaths following confirmation today that three people who have died in the past week had the virus.

Chief Coroner Neil MacLean said a 19-year-old man died last Sunday in Hamilton and a 42-year-old man died on Thursday in Christchurch.

Judge MacLean said it was still unknown whether the Hamilton man had underlying medical conditions, but such conditions were apparent with the Christchurch case.

It was "strongly probable" that the H1N1 virus (swine flu) was a major factor in the deaths of both men.

Meanwhile, Capital and Coast District Health Board said a young girl with underlying medical conditions died this morning in Wellington Hospital. She had earlier tested positive to swine flu.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said he, along with the ministry, expressed sincere condolences to the each of the families involved.

Mr Ryall said swine flu continued to spread throughout the community and would be around for some time, but there was no cause for alarm.

Director of Public Health Mark Jacobs said there was no need for New Zealand health authorities to change their management approach at this stage, but vigilance would remain.

"For most New Zealanders, swine flu will be a mild illness, but in some instances, the infection can cause more severe illness and in a few tragic instances, death," he said.

As of today, the total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand was 945, up from 912 yesterday.

The number of probable cases remained unchanged at 61.

The cumulative total of confirmed cases by region are: Northland (20), Auckland (202), Waikato (45), Bay of Plenty/Lakes (29), Gisborne (2), Hawke’s Bay (75), Taranaki (3), Wanganui/Palmerston North (14), Wellington (292), Nelson/Marlborough (19), Canterbury (230), Otago/Southland (14).

- NZPA

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