Medical authorities in Armenia reported on Monday the first two officially confirmed cases of people dying of swine flu.
The State Hygiene and Anti-Epidemiological Inspectorate identified the victims as a pregnant woman and a young man.
Artavazd Vanian, the head of the agency subordinated to the Armenian Ministry of Health, told RFE/RL that the woman died on Sunday shortly after being taken to Yerevan’s Erebuni hospital from the central town of Hrazdan. The other victim passed away “a couple of days” before that, he said.
According to Vanian, both persons suffered from a severe form of pneumonia. Laboratory tests confirmed that the illness was caused by the H1N1 virus, he said.
The health authorities already reported a suspected swine flu fatality late last month when a 51-year-old man died in another Yerevan hospital shortly after being taken there with flu-like symptoms. The man reportedly suffered from a number of serious ailments. Vanian said a subsequent biopsy test showed that he was not infected with H1N1.
The official further said that the authorities have registered 80 cases of swine flu in Armenia to date. He said 26 persons are being treated in local hospitals at the moment.
The spread of the potentially deadly virus is believed to be the main reason why the Armenian government ordered last Monday a two-week closure of all schools and kindergartens across the country. Officials downplayed the seriousness of the situation, with Vanian describing the measure as a “preventive measure against all types of influenza.”