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Electric shock kills flu patient

HANGZHOU police confirmed yesterday that electrocution was the cause of the "accidental" death of a swine flu patient in a hospital in the Zhejiang Province capital on Wednesday.

"The patient died of electrocution caused by an electricity leak in her ward lavatory while she was taking a shower," said a statement from the public security, health and quality supervision departments following an autopsy.

The patient was identified as 34-year-old Lou Yihong, who was admitted on June 23 to the People's Hospital in Xiaoshan District, after being diagnosed as suffering from the H1N1 virus.

The patient had been recovering and her temperature had been normal for a week before her death.

More than 50 of the patient's relatives protested at the hospital from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday, damaging the inside of the building and an ambulance with rocks.

Hospital Director Shen Xiaohui said that the medical care center would "properly handle the aftermath of the accident and negotiate with the patient's relatives over the compensation issue."

Some newspapers and Internet media reported that the relatives suspected Lou's death was caused by leakage of electricity from the water heater in her ward lavatory and demanded compensation of 4 million yuan (US$585,000) from the hospital.

Also yesterday, the Chinese mainland confirmed 45 new cases of swine flu, including 10 in Shanghai, bringing the total to 960.

Hong Kong reported 44 new infections yesterday, for a total of 901.

In Hong Kong, a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu was found in a sample taken from a 16-year-old girl who tested positive for the flu upon her arrival from San Francisco last month, the Department of Health said yesterday. The teen has since recovered without antiviral drugs.

Scientists have been worried that the new swine flu could swap genes with seasonal or other types of flu and perhaps mutate into a more dangerous or more infectious form.

Until an effective vaccine is developed, the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza are considered the best available defense against the swine flu virus.


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