GENEVA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- At least 8,768 people worldwide have been killed by A/H1N1 influenza, an increase of 942 in the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a latest update on Friday.
Of all the deaths, 5,878 occurred in the Americas, and at least 918 occurred in Europe. The other four WHO regions, South-East Asia, West Pacific, East Mediterranean and Africa reported 766, 706, 392 and 108 deaths respectively.
The H1N1 flu virus was first identified in North America in April, and the WHO declared the new influenza as a pandemic in June. So far the virus has caused infections in more than 207 countries and overseas territories or communities.
Currently A/H1N1 pandemic activity continues to evolve mostly in the cold northern hemisphere, with little activity reported in the southern hemisphere, the WHO said.
The early arriving winter influenza season continues to intensify across central Europe and in parts of central, eastern, and southern Asia. But disease activity has peaked and is declining in North America and has either recently peaked or is currently peaking in much of western and northern Europe.
In both Canada and the United States, influenza virus circulation remains active and geographically widespread. However, disease activity appears to have peaked in past three to four weeks, the WHO said.
In western and northern Europe the peak of disease activity has passed in Belgium, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and parts of Britain (Northern Ireland, Wales). Activity may be peaking or plateauing in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.
Influenza activity continues to increase in much of Central Europe in the region between the Baltic and Balkan countries and from Germany to Romania. In Eastern Europe, recent peaks or plateaus in disease activity have also been observed in Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova. In the Russian Federation, influenza activity remains active and intense in some regions, with an overall increasing trend.
In Western and Central Asia, influenza transmission remains active. Disease activity continues to increase in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Iraq, while activity may have peaked in Israel, Jordan, and Afghanistan.
In East Asia, increasing influenza-like-illness or respiratory disease activity has been reported in southern China and Japan. A recent decline in activity has been observed in northern China.
In South and Southeast Asia, influenza activity continues to increase in the north-western parts of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia, while activity in the rest of the region remains low.
At this point, it is still early to say whether pandemic activity is peaking in the northern hemisphere as a whole, and it is also not possible to predict what the situation will be like in the spring time, WHO's top flu expert Dr. Keiji Fukuda told reporters on Thursday.