Swine flu deaths in Europe doubling by the week, agency says

By Bloomberg News
Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swine flu deaths in Europe doubled in three of the last four weeks, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday.

Eighty-four people in 31 European Union and European Free Trade Association countries died from swine flu last week, compared with 43 the week before, Stockholm-based ECDC said in a bulletin on its Web site. Two weeks ago, 49 people died, up from 24 and 12 the previous weeks, the agency said.

"We are globally entering the acceleration phase" of the pandemic, Denis Coulombier, head of the ECDC's unit of preparedness and response, said in a telephone interview late Tuesday. "We are heading toward the peak for sure."

The swine flu outbreak has been most severe in northern countries such as Ireland, Iceland and the Ural region of Russia, according to the World Health Organization's regional office in Copenhagen. Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands are also experiencing significant levels of the illness, the WHO said in its Nov. 6 weekly report.

A total of 414 people in Europe have died from swine flu since the outbreak began in Mexico and the United States in April, the ECDC said. The figure includes 155 deaths in the United Kingdom, 73 in Spain, 31 in Italy and 30 in France since the beginning of the pandemic.

Almost 80 percent of all swine flu cases in Europe have occurred in people under age 30, according to a risk assessment published by the ECDC on Nov. 6.

Russia has confirmed 4,560 cases of the disease, almost 4,000 of them since Oct. 6, the state public health service Rospotrebnadzor said on Nov. 6. Nineteen people aged 20 to 53 had died as of Nov. 2, the majority of them from pneumonia after failing to seek medical attention, the agency said.

Swine flu immunization programs are under way in most European countries. Risk groups are among the first people getting the shots.

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