A 41-year-old woman from Phnom Penh has become the country’s first person to die from swine flu, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday.
Hun Sen said that the woman, from the capital’s Chamkarmon district, died at Calmette hospital Sunday afternoon.
“This is the first case [of a fatality from the A(H1N1) virus in Cambodia],” Hun Sen said during the opening of the new Ministry of Tourism building on Monday.
Authorities diagnosed the woman with the virus last Friday following tests at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Hun Sen said.
The prime minister said the patient went to a private clinic on September 18 after falling ill. The woman, he said, had an existing lung condition.
Local resident Lim Chhay identified the victim as his sister, Heng Eng. He said Heng Eng was infected with the virus after travelling to Thailand.
She first went to Sokha Phirom clinic in the capital before she was taken to Calmette hospital when her health worsened, Lim Chhay said.
Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, said the victim’s case was so serious that doctors could not treat it.
“This sickness is unpredictable, and we have to be careful in treating it because it is not a normal disease,” Sok Touch said Monday.
Sok Touch said that among the 88 confirmed cases in the Kingdom, 81 have been treated successfully. Others remain hospitalised in stable condition.
Officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed Cambodia’s first domestic case of A(H1N1) in June, after previously declaring the Kingdom “flu-free” in April.
The trend in spread of infections varies from country to country. The WHO lists Cambodia as a country where influenza transmission continues to be active, even as neighbouring Thailand, as well as Indonesia and Singapore, have reported declining transmissions.
Worldwide, there have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases of the virus, resulting in 4,636 deaths according to running totals compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC).
To help prevent the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health recommends that people wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues or handkerchiefs and avoid crowds.