Health chiefs are continuing to look into the first UK death of a patient suffering from swine flu.

The death, which occurred in hospital in Scotland, is the first to be reported outside the Americas - where 145 people have been killed by the disease. The patient was said to have had underlying health problems.

She died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and was one of 10 people being treated in hospital in Scotland for the disease.

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Tragic though the death is, I would like to emphasise that the vast majority of those who have H1N1 are suffering from relatively mild symptoms.”

Professor Hugh Pennington, a bacteriologist at Aberdeen University, reminded the public that even with the common or garden flu virus, people are admitted to hospital and some inevitably die.

He said the presence of underlying health problems was likely to be a “significant factor”. He added: “It makes it more likely that they will get the serious form of the virus in the first place.”

A Health Protection Agency spokesman said the risk to the general population remains low.

The total of swine flu cases in the UK now stands at 1,261 after a further 61 new cases were confirmed in England and 35 in Scotland.