General News: H1N1 deaths in Greece climb to 99 since start of year

Deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in Greece climbed to 99 since the start of the year, according to figures released by Greek authorities on Monday. Another 127 people were receiving treatment in intensive care units for complications caused by the virus.

Experts estimate that the epidemic peaked during the past week but expect a spike in the number of deaths during the current and following week. The epidemic is expected to gradually abate from the start of March and to have completely subsided in six weeks.

According to figures presented on Monday at the National School of Public Health, 30 percent of those that are admitted to an ICU due to the virus do not survive. The average age of those that contract the disease is 53 and 57 percent of those falling ill are men.

The 2011 epidemic resulted in 126 ICU beds occupied by H1N1 patients, compared with 70 in 2010. Scientists stressed that of those presenting with complications, the number needing treatment in an ICU was doubled. They attributed the rise to the fact that several vulnerable groups that should have been vaccinated did not receive a vaccination in 2011 and also because the 2011 strain of H1N1 was more virulent. Other contributing factors were the appearance of cases clustered over a short space of time but spatially quite spread out.

Experts again stressed that anti-viral medication if given promptly proved effective in prevention and often saved lives.

They also underlined that vaccination was still an option, even at this stage.

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