China is very likely to have a regional outbreak of the A (H1N1) influenza and its first death from the virus in the foreseeable future, as the number of the flu cases rises in the country, a Chinese health ministry official said on Monday.

A collective occurrence of the disease or a possible regional outbreak of the flu is inevitable at this point, Wannian Liang, vice director of the emergency office under the Health Ministry, said at a press conference.

The number of imported cases of the H1N1 is expected to continue to increase in the near future, and more local people will be infected by the virus, he said.

As the total of the infected increases, the chances of medical workers, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases being infected will rise, making the possibility of H1N1 fatalities extremely possible, he said.

The Chinese mainland reported a total of 729 H1N1 cases with 51 new cases of H1N1 confirmed in the 24 hours ending 6 pm June 28, while Hong Kong, with 0.5% population that of mainland China, also reported 729 H1N1 cases by 2.30pm Monday (local time).

Among the patients in mainland China, 401 have been discharged from hospitals, 314 were being treated in hospitals and 14 were receiving medical care at their homes.

According to spokesman from Department of Health in Hong Kong, 384 confirmed cases have been discharged from public hospitals upon recovery.

There is no fatalities reported so far.