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Mexico raises death toll from flu outbreak to 48

The number of Mexicans confirmed killed by the new flu virus rose by three to 48, Mexico's Health Ministry said on Saturday, as life returned to normal in Mexico City where restaurants and other businesses reopened after being closed for days.

world Updated: May 09, 2009 21:12 IST

The number of Mexicans confirmed killed by the new flu virus rose by three to 48, Mexico's Health Ministry said on Saturday, as life returned to normal in Mexico City where restaurants and other businesses reopened after being closed for days.

Mexico's death toll from the H1N1 flu was previously 45 but ministry spokesman Carlos Olmos told reporters tests had confirmed three more suspected fatal cases, with two of the victims dying in the first week of May.

The new H1N1 flu, which combines swine, human and bird elements, has sickened more than 3,400 people in 29 countries and killed three people outside of Mexico -- one in Canada and two in the United States.

The government was testing thousands of samples to confirm which patients with severe respiratory symptoms were actually infected with the flu, Olmos told a news conference.

He said over 5,000 tests had been done on suspicious cases and that 1,578 people were ill with the ailment but were being successfully treated.

After the virus was first detected on April 23, Mexico banned public events and shut down schools, bars, restaurants and many businesses to prevent people from gathering. Officials say a policy of disinfecting public spaces has helped control its spread.

Health authorities have said that as many as 176 people in Mexico may have died from the new flu but the actual number may never be known since many of the dead were buried before they could be tested.

The World Health Organization has kept its global pandemic alert for the outbreak at 5 out of 6 because the new virus was not spreading rapidly outside North America, where U.S. officials expect it to reach all 50 states.

On Friday, Guatemala's health minister confirmed two more people had been infected with the H1N1 flu, bring the total number of cases in the Central American country to three, while Panama's government on Saturday confirmed two cases of infection.