Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) Seasonal flu was last week confirmed as the cause of five recent deaths, bringing the total for the current flu season to 61, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.
According to CDC statistics, from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, a total of 102,013 people sought medical treatment for flu-like symptoms at hospitals and clinics around the country, representing a 13.5 percent decrease from the previous week.
At a press conference, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said most of the five newly-confirmed flu deaths involved people who fell ill during December, and involved four cases of the H1N1 strain, commonly known as swine flu, and one case of the H3N2 strain of the virus.
The deceased were aged 51-90, suffered from chronic illnesses and had not been vaccinated against the virus, Lin said.
In one case, Lin said, a bed-ridden 84-year-old woman fell ill with a fever and breathing difficulties.
The woman was taken to the emergency room, where she was found to be suffering from respiratory failure and sepsis, and subsequently died, less than 24 hours after first showing symptoms, Lin said.
According to CDC statistics, since Oct. 1, a total of 858 people have been diagnosed with severe complications associated with the flu, and 61 have died. Up to 98 percent of those diagnoses involved people who had not received flu vaccinations.
The CDC warned that despite the slight decline in cases reported last week, Taiwan is still in the peak period of annual flu season, and urged the public to seek early medical treatment for any suspected symptoms.
A total of 422,000 doses of this year’s flu vaccine remain available free of charge to high-risk groups, including children and the elderly, the CDC said.
(By Chen Wei-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)