Swine flu -more concern

As speculation grew yesterday over whether the two year-old child who died of swine flu at the weekend had been treated in Altnagelvin, health chiefs were remaining tightlipped about the location of the youngster’s death.

Neither the Western Trust nor the Public Health Agency would comment on the location of the death - with the PHA citing the family of the deceased child’s request for privacy.

It is not known whether the child had any underlying health conditions.

SDLP Foyle MLA Pol Callaghan said that given that the child was from the Republic of Ireland and had been treated in a northern hospital, it was likely that people “were going to join the dots” and assume the child had been treated in Altnagelvin.

“We must not let the lack of information heighten people’s concerns but there is no doubt in my mind that if people had more information they would feel less concerned.

“The silence surrounding the issue is deafening and is causing undue alarm.”

He called for at risk patients - especially pregnant women - to ensure they are vaccinated as soon as possible. “The message needs to get out there that the vaccine is available and recommended for those most at risk - in particular pregnant women.”

It has been revealed that Altnagelvin currently has the highest swine flu rates in the North. A spokesperson for the Trust said yesterday: “Patients with influenza or suspected influenza, including those with the Influenza H1N1 virus, continue to be treated in isolation in a number of different ward areas of the Trust’s hospitals, depending on their clinical need.”