Virus kills more than 1,000 in one week
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The influenza A (H1N1) virus, also known as swine flu, has killed more than 1,000 people in the last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports. A significant spike in fatalities has been reported in North America.
REUTERS - More than 1,000 deaths from the H1N1 swine flu virus were officially reported in the past week, a sharp rise which brings the global total to at least 7,826, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.
More than half of the latest fatalities were reported by health authorities in the Americas region.
The winter flu season arrived early in the northern hemisphere this year and continues to be intense across parts of North America and much of Europe.
"In the United States and Canada, influenza transmission remains very active and geographically widespread," the WHO said, adding that the disease now appeared to have peaked in all U.S. regions.
"In Canada, influenza activity remains similar but (the) number of hospitalisations and deaths is increasing," it said.
It is too early to say whether there has yet been a peak in infections in the northern hemisphere, the WHO's top flu expert said on Thursday, and it will be some weeks before there is a downward trend in the numbers of those catching the virus.
The H1N1 pandemic virus is causing widespread and increasing infections in Europe, with many reporting a rapid rise.
Sweden, Norway, Moldova and Italy are reporting "very high activity" and health care services are reeling under the strain in Albania and Moldova, it said. Flu has peaked in other European countries including Belgium, Ireland and Serbia.
Flu transmission is active in East Asia and it remains "stably elevated" in Japan, but may be decreasing slightly in cities there, according to the United Nations health agency.
In temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, little pandemic flu activity has been reported.
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