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Swine flu infects 4,379 people worldwide, kills 49

WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) laboratories have confirmed 4,379 infections with the new strain of H1N1 flu, which the United Nations agency said today has killed at least 49 people.

Its official tally, which tends to lag national reports but is considered more secure, includes 45 deaths in the disease epicentre Mexico, two deaths in the United States, and one each in Canada and Costa Rica.

The WHO's latest count includes nearly 1,000 more confirmed cases than its previous tally issued yesterday.

Some 29 countries around the world have had infections with the new flu strain that is a genetic mixture of swine, bird and human viruses. Mexico has had 1,626 laboratory-confirmed cases, the United States has had 2,254, and Canada has had 280.

Costa Rica, whose death is a new addition to the WHO toll, has had 8 laboratory-confirmed confirmed cases.

Evidence that the disease popularly known as swine flu has taken hold in communities outside of the Americas would prompt WHO chief Margaret Chan to declare a full pandemic is underway.

Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, has already raised the global pandemic alert level to 5 out of 6 in response to the spread of H1N1 flu. Phase 5 means a pandemic is imminent.

The European countries with the largest number of confirmed cases to date are Spain (93) and Britain (39).

Other European states with H1N1 infections are France (12), Germany (11), Italy (9), Netherlands (3), Ireland (1), Portugal (1), Austria (1), Denmark (1), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1), and Poland (1).

The WHO also confirmed these infections in the rest of the world: Israel (7), Brazil (6), New Zealand (7), Japan (4), South Korea (3), Panama (3), El Salvador (2), Hong Kong, China (1), Guatemala (1), Colombia (1), Argentina (1), Australia (1).


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