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July 17, 2009

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HK hit by first H1N1 fatality

AUTHORITIES estimate up to 6,000 Australians could die from swine flu in a "worst case scenario" during the Southern Hemisphere winter, the country's health minister said yesterday as Hong Kong reported its first fatality.

But that figure would likely only be reached if no action were taken against the virus, such as using antivirals and vaccines, Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon told government-run ABC Radio.

She said Australia had ordered 21 million doses of a vaccine, which authorities hoped to begin using by October.

There are an average of 2,000 to 3,000 flu-related deaths in Australia per flu season, according to the federal health department.

Dual infections

Australia is the worst-hit nation in the Asia-Pacific region, with 24 swine flu-related deaths and 11,194 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the latest official figures.

Hong Kong reported its first fatal case of swine flu yesterday as the Chinese city found 85 more infections.

Thomas Tsang, controller of the city's Center for Health Protection, said a 42-year-old Filipino seaman tested positive for swine flu after his death. He was also found to have been infected with an aggressive antibiotic-resistant staph infection.

Tsang said the man developed pneumonia when he was admitted to hospital nine days ago and died of respiratory failure last Friday.

Hong Kong has reported 1,552 swine-flu cases, including five in serious or critical condition.

New Zealand yesterday confirmed its 10th swine flu-related death.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health said cases in the country had risen to 2,107.

In Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the country had taken all the necessary measures to curb the spread of swine flu.

"We must be careful but we should not panic either," Abhisit said yesterday.

Wana Hanahaoworakul, an epidemiologist with the Department of Communicable Disease Control in Thailand, said the number of cases was expected to reach between 100,000 and 500,000.

Thailand has reported 25 fatalities and more than 4,000 people infected.


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