Norway and Sweden have both reported their first swine flu deaths recently, the first from the H1N1 virus in any Nordic country.
On Thursday, Norwegian Health officials announced that a Danish truck driver had fallen victim to pneumonia brought on by the infection. The man is the first Danish casualty according to Denmark’s health authorities. Little else is known other than that he was in his thirties and was understood to have contracted the virus whilst working.
On Friday, the Swedish city of Uppsala declared that a man, also in his thirties, was pronounced dead at his home after displaying flu-like symptoms. Doctors from the nearby Akademiska hospital later declared that test results indicated the presence of the H1N1 virus.
The Swedish man had not travelled abroad and, while there are a small number of cases reported of the A-strain of the virus, none have been traced to the area surrounding the University town of Uppsala, some 80 kilometres north of Stockholm. Swedish officials have advised that close to one thousand cases of swine flu infections have been reported in the country this year.
In August, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, or SKL, prompted the government to order 18 million doses of the swine flu vaccine; enough for the entire population to receive the suggested double dosage for free. The first dosage is set to be administered in late September, with the follow-ups due three weeks later.
Sweden has taken the possibility of infection extremely seriously, with one school principal in Borlange banning teachers from shaking hands with students. There has also been some consternation amongst politicians in the lead-up to elections this month which will see restrictions on human contact. All baby holding photo opportunities are likely to be cancelled.
A number of Swedish churches have addressed the issue of communal wine cups transmitting the disease by changing from traditional alcohol free or light-wine to stronger, fortified wine in a move which has delighted patrons.