Portugal reports 16 deaths from A/H1N1 flu

13:53, November 26, 2009      

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A total of 16 people have died from the A/H1N1 virus in Portugal since the outbreak of the epidemic in the country in May, Portuguese Health Minister Ana Jorge said on Wednesday.

One of the deaths was not caused directly by A/H1N1, although the person was infected with the virus, Jorge was quoted as saying by local press.

As a response to criticism over the lack of information on new A/H1N1 related deaths, Jorge said the government is not concealing any data, but finds no sense in informing the public of each death.

She also said the European Medicine Health Authority found no direct relation between the deaths of fetuses in some European countries, among whom four in Portugal, and the fact that pregnant women carrying those babies had been vaccinated against influenza.

Jorge urged pregnant women to get the vaccines since "they are a risk group," adding that one has died and two others who have given birth to their babies are treated in intensive care units and "their lives are at risk."

Meanwhile, Graza Freitas, the Portuguese general sub-director of health said the vaccine against A/H1N1 flu pandemic is completely safe and that it "has been ready on time, after a process that started in 2005."

The vaccine against seasonal flu is also safe and both of them are manufactured by the same company, Fretitas said.

On whether the H1N1 vaccines could have caused the deaths of four fetuses in Portugal, the health official said that for every 100,000 pregnancies in Portugal, 17 fetuses are reported dead every week, no matter whether their mothers received the vaccine or not.

Source: Xinhua
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