Update – July 12, 2009

There are now over 620 deaths due to the new H1N1 pandemic flu virus.

The most cases have been recorded in the United States – over 220. Over 60 have been recorded in New York State.

121 deaths have been recorded in Mexico. Over 40 deaths have been reported in Canada.

At least 100 deaths, and probably many more, have occurred in Argentina. This is the greatest number of deaths on a per capita basis in the world. In part, this is likely due to the onset of flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the Argentinian government has also been criticised for being slow in closing schools and in activating other interventions that can be expected to slow the spread of the virus. Schools, theaters and many businesses in Argentina are now closed, partly due to government action and partly due to the Argentinian public’s avoidance of these places for fear of the catching the flu.

There have been 18 deaths in Australia and 8 in New Zealand. Although cases have been increasing in both these countries, the peak of the flu season in these areas is often not until the end of July or beginning of August. Thus, we can expect many more cases in the next few weeks.

18 deaths have been reported in Thailand. 1 death has been reported in the Philippines. No other deaths have been reported in other Asian countries despite the fact that there are many cases throughout Asia. Although it is possible that there is particularly lethal variant in Thailand, this seems unlikely. The more probable explanation is that other Asian countries are not reporting their deaths.

The UK continues to be the hardest hit country in Europe with 15 reported deaths. Cases continue to increase despite the fact that the flu season is still months away.

One of the most notable news stories of the past week is the discovery of Tamiflu-resistant pandemic H1N1 virus in multiple countries. It is not yet clear how wide-spread resistant strains of the new H1N1 are. Increased surveillance to ascertain whether Tamiflu-resistant strains are increasing in prevalence should be a high priority.

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