Two critical with swine flu in Hong Kong: hospital

HONG KONG, Jan 21, 2011 (AFP) - Two people were in critical condition in a Hong Kong hospital suffering from swine flu, health officials said Friday, a year and a half after an outbreak that killed more than 80 people in the city.

The Chinese financial centre is nervous about infectious diseases, following the outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003, which killed 300 people in the city and a further 500 around the world.

"A 21-year-old female is in critical condition after contracting swine flu", a spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Queen Elizabeth Hospital told AFP.

The woman, from mainland China, was admitted to hospital on January 11 and transferred to the intensive care unit on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said, adding that she could not confirm if the woman was infected outside the city.

Also Tuesday, a two-year-old girl was placed in the hospital's intensive care unit after she contracted the illness, the spokeswoman said.

Hong Kong's health department confirmed Friday that the deadly influenza had claimed 83 lives since an outbreak in 2009 that sparked widespread panic and also drew criticism over what some described an an official over-reaction.

Authorities ordered three million doses of swine flu vaccine in late 2009 -- enough for almost half the city's population.

In May 2009, health authorities quarantined around 300 guests and staff at a hotel where the carrier, a Mexican national, had briefly stayed, while education chiefs ordered all primary schools to be closed for two weeks over fears about the illness spreading in the teeming metropolis.

In July 2009, a Philippine maid became the city's first fatality from swine-flu.

The World Health Organization said last summer that 18,156 people had died from the virus, a year after it was declared a pandemic, but that the influenza had become "globally less active".

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