First swine flu death reported

Greece yesterday became the latest addition to the list of countries that have reported fatalities from swine flu, following the death of a 25-year-old Albanian man in an Athens hospital. The Albanian, a permanent resident of Greece, had been admitted to the intensive-care unit of the Evangelismos hospital on August 23, suffering from a severe case of pneumonia. The deceased had a history of heart disease and had, in the past, been fitted with a defibrillator. After contracting the H1N1 virus, doctors said, the man developed severe respiratory problems that they were unable to treat, which in turn led to the multiple organ failure from which he died. Despite the victim’s medical history, specialists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) said that, according to international scientific criteria, his death was caused by swine flu. This is the first confirmed swine flu death in Greece. A 23-year-old man, who had also suffered serious heart problems, died from complications related to swine flu late last month but the Health Ministry issued a statement at the time saying that the death did «not technically qualify as a swine flu fatality… as the virus was contracted within the past 48 hours.» In a related development, KEELPNO announced yesterday that the total number of H1N1 cases confirmed in the country has reached 1,996, although the actual number of people with swine flu is believed to be much higher, as many sufferers simply do not seek help from hospitals. KEELPNO said a total of 157 new cases of H1N1 infection were officially recorded in the past week alone. In terms of geographical distribution, roughly half of the swine flu patients have been recorded in Attica, followed by Crete with 227 cases, central Macedonia with 183, the Ionian Islands with 179 and the islands of the southern Aegean with 112 cases. The increased flow of tourists into the country over the past two months is believed to have aggravated the spread of the virus.