Amid coronavirus outbreak, Taiwan reports 56 swine flu deaths

Taiwan has reported at least 56 deaths due to H1N1 virus-affected respiratory failure in the past three months, according to the island’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

CDC officials stopped short of revealing how many had died in the past week from the H1N1 virus – also known as swine flu – but local news media reported that it had caused 13 deaths in that time.

There had been only 10 confirmed cases in Taiwan of the coronavirus that originated in the mainland city of Wuhan, and no deaths so far.

CDC officials said H1N1 has been the predominant virus type in Taiwan over the past three months. “During this season, there have been 771 influenza cases with severe complications since October 1, including 56 deaths,” a spokeswoman said.

Of the severe cases, 41 per cent of the patients are older than 65; another 32 per cent are in the 50-64 age group, she said. The spokeswoman said that 98 per cent of those patients had not received any flu vaccines and close to 80 per cent have chronic diseases.

She called for residents to get the flu vaccine to better protect themselves, saying that “none of the 43 patients who died from flu complications in the past three months had been vaccinated”.

The CDC has operated a seasonal influenza vaccination campaign since November 15, offering free shots to locals in three groups: those for students in elementary through high school; health care workers; and senior citizens.

In the US, at least 1,300 people have died from the flu so far this season, according to a preliminary estimate by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.