August 15, 2009 / 8:06 AM / 10 years ago

Japan confirms first H1N1 death

TOKYO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - A man in his 50s from the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa has died from the H1N1 influenza virus, becoming the country’s first fatality from the disease, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The man had apparently not been overseas, a health ministry official said. Other details were not immediately available.

The H1N1 flu outbreak, declared a pandemic in June, has spread around the world and could eventually affect 2 billion people, according to World Health Organisation estimates.

Japan had confirmed some 5,000 cases of the disease as of last month, when it stopped keeping track.

The virus has killed more than 800 people worldwide since emerging in April. (Reporting by Elaine Lies)

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