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Swine flu pandemic said to be on its last breath

The Federal Health Office says the swine flu pandemic that swept around the world is drawing to a close.

Patrick Mathys, head of the Health Office’s pandemic preparation unit, said on Friday that the H1N1 virus is still active but that the wave of illness is ebbing.

About 1.1 million people in Switzerland have come in contact with the virus. Some 1.3 million in the country were vaccinated against it. That's about the same as during a typical flu season. Eighteen people died from symptoms or complications related to the virus in Switzerland.

Doctors have consulted about 270,000 people for flu symptoms this season. The Health Office said it knew of 561 people who had to be hospitalised with confirmed cases of swine flu, but actual numbers of people who contracted the virus could be much higher.

The virus is believed to have killed at least 12,200 people worldwide as of the end of 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported. The agency said it typically takes one to two years after a pandemic has ended to get the most accurate figures.

An external evaluation of how Swiss authorities handled the pandemic is underway. and agencies

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