(I’m not sure what’s going on here!-cottontop)

Swine flu responsible for just seven deaths, WHO official claims  

A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

Vivienne Allan, from WHO’s patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths – all in Mexico – and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.

Mexican health authorities say the virus has killed 26 people and is suspected in 159 total deaths. They say it has infected nearly 2500 in Mexico alone.

Cases have also been been confirmed in the US, Canada, Scotland, Israel, and Spain, as well as New Zealand, where at least three people have been infected.

“Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that’s not information that’s come from the World Health Organisation,” Ms Allan told Australia’s ABC Radio today.

“That figure is not a figure that’s come from the World Health Organisation and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico.”

Allan said WHO had confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the Americas, 26 in Mexico, six in Canada, two in Spain, two in Britain and three in New Zealand.

Tourism impact

Prime Minister John Key today maintained New Zealand was still a safe place to travel, despite the confirmed cases of swine flu.

This morning, health officials announced 14 cases of influenza A had been confirmed in the Auckland region, including the three people who had the new swine flu strain of influenza A.

The Indian government has told people not to travel to New Zealand and “one or two” Japanese tourists have cancelled their trips to New Zealand.

“Also when the Sars virus came out the Japanese were particularly sensitive to those issues,” Mr Key told a media conference this afternoon.

Mr Key was to meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister this evening and said the topic of swine flu “may well come up in the conversation”.

“I’ll just give him assurance that New Zealand is doing everything it can, that we’ve got a world class health system here, we’ve got large stocks of Tamiflu and that we’re encouraging any New Zealander that shows any signs of influenza to seek the help of their doctor.”

He said India was over-reacting and New Zealand remained a safe place to visit.

“Swine flu is going to be in a lot of countries around the world.”

14 cases of influenza A

Twelve of New Zealand’s influenza A cases are from a 25-person Rangitoto College group which returned from Mexico on Saturday.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) clinical director Julia Peters announced the new cases of influenza A at a Ministry of Health media conference in Wellington this morning.

Anyone who has travelled to Mexico or North America in the last seven days should contact Healthline (0800 611 116) for information. They should seek medical advice if they are displaying flu-like symptoms.