x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Swine flu cases grow

Swine flu infections throughout Asia-Pacific are rising with Australia recording the highest tally of cases in the region.

Swine flu infections in the Asia-Pacific region mounted today, a day after a 26-year-old Australian man with the virus died although authorities say it may have been other serious ailments that killed him. The Aboriginal man who died on Friday could be the first person in the region to be claimed by swine flu, which has swept rapidly across nations here but without fatal impact. Bangladesh, Laos and Papua New Guinea all confirmed their first cases on Friday, while infections continued to rise sharply in Thailand. Today, China confirmed 32 more infections, bringing its tally to 329 cases, and Malaysia confirmed seven more, bringing its total to 42.

The World Health Organisation declared swine flu a pandemic last week. As of Friday, it said more than 44,000 cases had been reported worldwide, with 180 deaths, mostly in Mexico and the United States. The Australian who died in a hospital in Adelaide came from a remote desert community. Experts say his case further highlights the gap in health standards between the impoverished indigenous Aborigines and other Australians.

The man, who was not named, had been in hospital with multiple serious ailments, which authorities have declined to identify. That has raised doubts about whether swine flu was the cause of death. He was diagnosed with the virus on Thursday. Australia has recorded the highest tally of swine flu cases in the region, reaching 2,330 by Friday. The federal health minister Nicola Roxon said swine flu remained mild in Australia and that most people infected made rapid and full recoveries.

Bangladesh on Friday confirmed its first case: a 19-year-old man who had recently returned from the US the health ministry said in a statement. A 27-year-old Australian visitor has been confirmed as the first case of the virus in Laos, the official Khaosan Pathet Lao agency reported. Thailand's Public Health Ministry confirmed 71 new cases on Friday, bringing the country's total to 589, most of them in Bangkok.

Elsewhere in the region, Papua New Guinea became the second South Pacific islands nation to report a single confirmed case of the infection, after Samoa confirmed its first case Tuesday. India's Health Ministry late Friday confirmed six new cases, bringing the country's total to 50. So far 16 people have been discharged from government hospitals after being treated for the illness, it said. *AP