‘First’ swine-flu death in Africa

South Africa has confirmed its first death from swine flu, believed to be the first documented fatality from the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.

Health officials said a 22-year-old student had died on 28 July, and tests had confirmed the cause of death as the H1N1 influenza virus.

The country has had at least 150 confirmed swine flu cases – easily the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa.

The illness has caused hundreds of deaths in North and South America.

Dozens more have died in Asia and Europe.

Africa was the last continent to be hit by the virus and has so far escaped relatively lightly.

South Africa confirmed its first case of the disease on 18 June and according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has had 151 cases in total.

The health ministry called the student’s death “unfortunate and deeply regretted”.

A statement from the ministry said he had been ill for about a week before going to a Western Cape hospital, where he was treated with antibiotics for pneumonia.

He died two days later.

The ministry’s statement added: “We are encouraged by the fact that the majority of cases in South Africa have so far been mild and we hope that this will remain so despite this unfortunate death.”

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