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Statement from Health Minister following the death of child with confirmed swine flu

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has expressed his deepest sympathy to the family of a 12 year old boy who died this morning in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

The child was confirmed as having swine flu and had a serious underlying medical condition.

The Minister said: "It is very sad when a child dies and my thoughts and sympathies are with the family. I would ask everyone to respect the privacy of the family at this very sad time.

"Incidents of swine flu in Northern Ireland remain high and we must expect further increases in cases in the weeks ahead. Swine flu remains a major public health threat but we are well prepared and have been planning for a pandemic for some time.”

Hugh McCaughey, Chief Executive of the South Eastern HSC Trust said: “Our thoughts at this time are with the boy’s family. We should also not forget our staff who have cared for him on a regular basis during his many hospital visits.

Notes to editors:

1. The UK has moved to a treatment phase in relation to managing the swine flu pandemic. This means that our focus is on treating those people who actually have swine flu and in particular those at higher risk of developing complications. In addition, the routine testing of suspected cases and the tracing of close contacts of a symptomatic patient has been discontinued. The level of flu in the community is therefore being monitored using a range of surveillance mechanisms through GP practices, Out of Hours centres, antiviral prescriptions and hospital surveillance systems. This enables us to monitor flu levels and identify trends in activity.

2. Some groups of people are more at risk of serious illness if they catch swine flu. Those with:-

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Chronic heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic neurological disease
  • Immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Patients who have had drug treatment for asthma within the past three years ]

As well as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children under five years old
  • People aged 65 years and older

It is vital that people in these higher risk groups contact their GP for assessment and if advised to start antivirals should start taking them within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

3. The Northern Ireland swine flu helpline number 0800 0514 142 is a freephone helpline for those who want more information about swine flu. Textphone 18001 0800 0 514 142.

4. The UK-wide flu information line on 0800 1 513 513 provides regularly updated advice on swine flu. This is also a freephone number.

5. Further information about swine flu can be found on the DHSSPS website or nidirect.

6. Media enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0575. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.