Over 250 swine flu deaths in Ukraine since September: official
More than 250 people have died of swine flu in Ukraine since late September, a health official said Thursday, with the toll rising by almost 70 people in the past two weeks.
The war-scarred country has been swept by a general flu epidemic that has claimed 313 lives since September 28, when the first illness was recorded, a spokeswoman at Ukraine's flu and acute respiratory infections centre told AFP.
"Of that number, 253 have been confirmed as being caused by swine flu," she said on condition of anonymity.
It marked only the second known time that Ukraine has released swine flu toll figures, which an official at the health ministry told AFP at the start of the month were being treated as a state secret for undisclosed reasons.
Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 virus, a respiratory disease that is contracted through contact between humans and pigs.
It is transmitted between people through inhalation, but not from eating pork-related products, according to health experts.
The figures released to AFP on Thursday only cover the government-run parts of Ukraine, with no official data available for southeastern regions controlled by pro-Russian rebel fighters since April 2014.
Health ministry officials questioned by AFP could not provide immediate information about swine flu cases in previous years.
At least 50 people have also died from the virus in neighbouring Russia, according to AFP calculations based on data from regional health authorities received on January 26.
A major H1N1 outbreak sparked a World Health Organization pandemic alert in June 2009, after the virus emerged from Mexico and the United States.
The epidemic killed around 18,500 people in 214 countries. The alert was lifted in August 2010.
© 2016 AFP