The death toll from the swine flu pandemic has risen to at least 14,711, up 569 from a week ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
WHO said the spread of the A(H1N1) virus peaked in most of the northern hemisphere in October and November, but transmission was still active in parts of North Africa, eastern and southeastern Europe and south and east Asia.
"As of 24 January 2010, worldwide more than 209 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 14,711 deaths," WHO said in its weekly bulletin on the virus.
In North Africa, WHO said data suggested swine flu transmission was still "active and geographically widespread", particularly in Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Egypt.
WHO added that the virus appeared to have peaked in North Africa in December or January.
Several European countries, — Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Russia — reported "slight increases" in cases of flu and respiratory illnesses, WHO said.
The worst affected region has been the Americas, with at least 7,166 deaths from A(H1N1), while Europe has recorded at least 3,429 fatalities.
At least 2,981 people have died from the virus in the East Asia and West Pacific region, WHO said.
However, "activity in general is decreasing," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told a news briefing.