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In its latest update, the agency said there had now been 275 total cases in the UK 

A person has died as a result of a STEC e.coli infection linked to the recent nationwide outbreak of the bug, the UK Health Security Agency has confirmed.

In its latest update, published today the government agency said there had now been a total of 275 cases of the foodborne illness across the UK, with all currently confirmed cases with onset dates before 4 June.

Two people had died within 28 days of outbreak, the agency said. However, based on the information available from health service clinicians, only one of these deaths was likely linked to their STEC infection.

Both individuals had underlying medical conditions and the deaths occurred in May.

Case reporting rates are now declining. However, the UKHSA said it anticipated more cases linked to this outbreak as further samples were referred from NHS laboratories and whole genome sequencing was conducted.

In England there have been 182 cases, 58 in Scotland, 31 in Wales and four in Northern Ireland, with evidence suggesting they acquired their infection in England.

Based on information from the 249 cases to date, some 49% were admitted to hospital.

The UKHSA has doubled down on its recent hygiene advice, with Amy Douglas, incident director at the agency, saying “there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and the risk of infecting others”.

She recommended washing hands with soap and warm water and using disinfectants to clean surfaces to stop any further spread of infection.

Read more: Greencore among sandwich manufacturers recalling product linked to e.coli outbreak

“If you are unwell, you should not prepare food for others and avoid visiting people in hospitals or care homes to avoid passing on the infection in these settings,” Douglas added.

“Do not return to work, school or nursery until 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped. If you are concerned about your symptoms, follow NHS.UK guidance on when to seek help and the steps you can take to avoid further spread to family and friends.”

The update follows the mass recall of products sold in supermarkets from several sandwich manufacturers due a suspected link to a type of lettuce used in such products as the likely cause of the outbreak.

“This remains a complex investigation and we continue to work with the relevant businesses and the local authorities to ensure necessary steps are being taken to protect consumers,” said Darren Whitby, head of incidents at the FSA.

“Although we are confident in the likely source of the outbreak being linked to lettuce, work continues to confirm this and identify the root cause of the outbreak with the growers, suppliers and manufacturers so that actions can be taken to prevent a re-occurrence,” he added.

Read more: More woe for the fresh produce sector as cleanliness continues to challenge