No swine flu deaths in Southern region

Swine flu has claimed 16 lives in New Zealand this winter, and a further 14 people are fighting it in intensive care units.

Deputy director of public health Darren Hunt said swine flu numbers appeared to be falling but there was regional variation.

Numbers of cases were still rising in areas such as Canterbury.

"The number of calls to Healthline is still higher than normal, though the number of calls requiring assessment of influenza-like illness seems to be decreasing," Dr Hunt said.

"It's still important to seek medical advice early, particularly for people with underlying medical conditions or who are severely overweight or pregnant, as they are at greater risk of a more severe illness."

The Southern District Health Board has reported about 25 cases of swine flu this year, but no deaths.

Otago and Southland medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell said flu numbers were normal for this time of year.

Only one person had been placed in the intensive care unit for flu this year at Dunedin Hospital, he said.

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