Bird flu deaths confirmed

Two Indonesian women died last week of bird flu, according to tests by a World Health Organisation-sanctioned laboratory, the Health Ministry said today.

Dewi Sartika, 37, and Kiki Maria, 22, both from Bekasi, a town just east of the capital Jakarta, died on Thursday and Friday at the Sulianti Saroso Hospital, said Hariadi Wibisono, a Health Ministry official.

Wibisono said that the WHO-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong today returned tests on the blood and swab samples of the two women to the Health Ministry. The tests confirmed that the two women had died of bird flu.

He said the deaths pushed Indonesia’s official human death toll from the virus to 18.

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