LONDON - A family doctor and a six-year-old girl have died after catching H1N1 flu, health officials said on Monday, days after the first British death from the infection in an otherwise healthy patient.

It means 17 people have now died in Britain after contracting the infection.

Dr Michael Day, from Bedfordshire, north of London, died on Saturday at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, local NHS officials said.

Tests showed he had tested positive for the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, although the exact cause of death was still unknown.

This news has come as such a shock to us all and we are completely devastated, said Dr Paul Hassan, senior partner at Priory Gardens Health Centre.

I know the news will also come as a great shock to our patients, many of whom have known him for many years.

Meanwhile Chloe Buckley, 6, from northwest London, died on July 9 at St Mary's Hospital in London, NHS officials said. A post mortem will be carried out to see if she was suffering any underlying health conditions.

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family at this difficult time as they come to terms with their loss, said Simon Tanner, Regional Director of Public Health.

On Friday, the government announced that a patient from Essex, eastern England, had died from the virus, but unlike all the others had no underlying health conditions.
The Department of Health said last week the rapid spread of infection in London and the West Midlands was close to epidemic level.

It said Britain had 9,718 laboratory-confirmed cases, the third most in the world behind the United States and Mexico, although the actual number of cases was likely to be higher.

A total of 17 patients who contracted the virus, known as swine flu, have now died, including six in London.

Until last week, all had underlying health issues and it is not clear in how many cases the patients had died as a direct result of the virus.

Britain's Health Minister Andy Burnham has said the government is projecting more than 100,000 new cases a day of the flu by the end of August.

Most people who have caught the infection have suffered mild symptoms.

The World Health Organisation declared on June 11 the outbreak of the virus was a pandemic and more than 94,500 cases have been reported worldwide.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Tim Castle)