Two deaths from the influenza H1N1 virus have occurred in Beijing over the past two weeks. The virus reportedly killed two women, one young migrant worker and an elderly cancer patient. The Beijing Review reports 28,567 cases of the flu were documented in Beijing within the last week.
Officials do not believe these deaths are cause for alarm despite the severity of the H1N1 pandemic that occurred in 2009. It is estimated that the 2009 pandemic killed over 650 people in China and as many as 500,000 worldwide.
Since 2009, H1N1 has been circulating as seasonal influenza and has been included in the influenza vaccine. According to Reuters, H1N1 is currently the most common influenza found in China.
Chinese officials began nation-wide vaccination programs against H1N1 in late 2009 as a response to the outbreak. They recommend good hygiene practices, such as hand washing, to avoid infection with the virus.
H1N1, formerly called swine flu, causes symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches similar to those of other flu viruses. Most people who get H1N1 do not need serious medical care. The U.S. seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against H1N1, and the CDC recommends that everyone over age 6 months be vaccinated.