Pinay maid dies of swine flu in Hong Kong

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 27 2009 10:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2009 07:18 PM

HONG KONG - A Filipino maid died of swine flu in Hong Kong Monday, health authorities said, as the city investigated whether this was its first fatality from the virus.

The 37-year-old, who arrived in Hong Kong on June 28 to start her job as a domestic helper, developed a sore throat and fever a day later, the Center for Health Protection (CHP) said in a statement.

The woman, who was not named by the CHP, checked into the United Christian Hospital on July 7 and was admitted to intensive care in a critical condition.

"The case has been referred to the coroner... for investigation," the CHP said, referring to the patient's death as a "fatal case of human swine influenza."

Before Monday no fatalities were confirmed to have been caused by the A(H1N1) influenza virus in Hong Kong, although the government said earlier this month it was investigating the death of a 42-year-old Philippine man infected with the virus.

The city said it was unable to confirm Monday night whether the domestic helper's death was Hong Kong's first confirmed swine flu fatality.

But a spokeswoman for the UCH told AFP: "It should be the first fatal swine flu case in Hong Kong."

The hospital released a statement Monday night which said: "The patient has been on Tamiflu and antibiotics treatment. She was in critical condition requiring mechanical ventilation."

It said the woman was placed on a life support system on July 13, but "her condition continued to deteriorate and she was certified dead at 17:47 today (0947 GMT Monday)."

The government said by Monday night a total of 2,855 cases of swine flu had been reported in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is particularly nervous about infectious diseases following the outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003, which killed 300 people here and a further 500 around the world.

When Hong Kong discovered its first swine flu case in early May, health authorities quarantined around 300 guests and staff at a hotel where the carrier, a Mexican national, had briefly stayed.

In June, authorities ordered all primary schools in the city to be closed for two weeks after the first cluster of local swine flu cases was found.

More than 800 people have been killed around the world by the A(H1N1) virus, which first surfaced in Mexico, and the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic is now unstoppable.