Teacher is New York's first swine flu death

A New York City school principal suffering from swine flu died yesterday, becoming the city's first death due to H1N1 flu, medical officials said.

Mitchell Wiener, 55, died after being admitted to Flushing Hospital Medical Centre several days ago with the H1N1 flu virus, said Dr. Andrew Rubin, a hospital spokesman. A city Health Department spokeswoman also confirmed a death, but could not confirm the victim's identity.

It was the first death in New York City, where many of the US cases have been reported but with mostly mild symptoms.

Wiener had been in and out of consciousness and was being treated with an experimental drug, but family members had said as recently as Saturday that he was making some progress.

Wiener was the assistant principal of Intermediate School 236 in Hollis in the New York borough of Queens. The school was one of several city schools to be shuttered after the illness afflicted patients and staff members.

Three additional schools will be closed from today in Queens for up to five school days after officials documented increasing levels of influenza-like illnesses.

"Given the large number of cases, it is entirely possible that in the coming days there will be people with severe illness from flu, particularly among people who have underlying health problems," city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden warned.

The department said it would evaluate more school closings on the case-by-case basis.