Belgian cemeteries prepare for swine flu deaths

4th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

A day after a Belgian woman died of the A(H1N1) virus, regional authorities are asking municipalities to dig graves in advance to prepare for the worst.

Brussels – Cities and towns in Belgium have been asked to prepare their cemeteries for an expected rise in deaths due to swine flu, a regional official said Friday, a day after the first fatality was recorded.

"Without wanting to cause any alarm, it is our duty to prepare for the worst," an official with the crisis centre in the Walloon regional government told AFP, adding that he hoped "this scenario doesn't arise".

"We have asked the municipalities to dig graves in advance, to avoid any problems that might be posed by frost in the winter," he said.

"We must avoid any painful, unforeseen problems for the families," he added.

On Thursday, a 34-year-old woman became the first Belgian to die due to the effects of the A(H1N1) virus, contracting a double pneumonia sparked by the potentially deadly illness.

More than 800 people have been killed around the globe by the A(H1N1) virus, which first surfaced in Mexico in April, and the World Health Organisation has warned that the pandemic is now unstoppable.

Deaths have now been recorded in five European nations: Belgium, Britain, France, Hungary and Spain.

AFP / Expatica

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