Israel has recorded its third death from swine flu, that of a 12-year-old girl at Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, the health ministry announced today. It said the girl, who had a chronic illness, had been hospitalised a few days ago after an examination revealed she had been infected by the (A) H1N1 virus which had caused complications. Health ministry figures show there are currently 1,719 known swine flu cases in Israel, where the authorities estimate that up to a quarter of the population - about 1.85 million people - could be infected by the virus.
However, the ministry expects the effects of the disease to be relatively benign in a majority of cases. Twenty people who contracted swine flu are currently hospitalised in "serious" condition, the ministry said. Last week the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the health authorities to buy up swine flu vaccine for the country's entire 7.5 million population. His office put the likely cost of the vaccine stock-up at 450 million shekels (Dh424mn).
The authorities have imposed strict health controls at border crossings and airports. * AFP