Family of swine flu victim 'devastated'
Monday 15 June 2009
The family of the first British person to die while suffering from swine flu said today they were "absolutely devastated".
Jacqui Fleming, 38, of Glasgow, died in hospital yesterday, two weeks after giving birth prematurely.
Her family said in a statement: "Our whole family is absolutely devastated and we are doing everything we can to support Jacqueline's two sons and her partner."
Ms Fleming, who had other underlying health problems, gave birth three months early at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire, two weeks ago.
She lived with her two other children - one aged 18 and one of primary school age - and her long-term partner in the family home in Carnwadric, Glasgow.
It is understood the child, who was born at 29 weeks, does not have swine flu.
In their statement, issued by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the family said: "Jacqueline has been ill in hospital for a number of weeks but nothing can prepare you for such shattering news and to that end we would ask the media to respect the privacy of our entire family so that we can grieve in peace."
A family friend added: "It is a tragedy. She had an 18-year-old son and a boy of around nine or 10 and a new baby who will grow up without a mother now.
"I think they are taking it really badly.
"She was in hospital for a couple of weeks and there were days she was getting better and days she was taking a turn for the worse.
"They hoped she was going to pull through and it was a shock when she died.
"The family are really devastated.
"She was a really nice lady, really kind, a quiet woman, just a family person really."
The mother, who was in intensive care at the Royal Alexandra, was one of 10 being treated in hospital in Scotland.
It is the first death to be reported outside the Americas, where at least 145 people have died from swine flu.
A school close to Ms Fleming's home in Glasgow was partially closed last week after a child tested positive for swine flu.
Primary year five and six pupils at St Vincent Primary School were told to stay away for seven days as a precaution.
It is not known if the school closure is linked to the fatal case.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond offered condolences to the family.
"I think all of us in Scotland will feel very deeply for the feelings of the family at the present time," he said.
Professor Hugh Pennington, a bacteriologist at Aberdeen University, said the first swine flu death was not unexpected.
"It does not point to the virus getting nastier. All the evidence to date suggests the virus is not changing at all," he said.
"This is a flu virus, it is in no way different from an ordinary winter flu virus, so if there are enough cases some people will have to be admitted to hospital and some will die."
A further 61 people in England and 35 people in Scotland were diagnosed with the virus yesterday, bringing the UK total to 1,261.
There have now been 752 people infected in England, 498 in Scotland, eight in Northern Ireland and three in Wales, according to figures released by the HPA and the Scottish Government.
On Friday, Health Secretary Andy Burnham urged people not to panic after the World Health Organisation announced the swine flu outbreak is now a pandemic, the first in more than 40 years.
The last flu pandemic in 1968 killed about a million people.
Meanwhile, a British tourist in Malaysia tested positive for swine flu, the country's health ministry said.
Malaysia has seen 15 people with the disease so far, six of whom are quarantined.
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