Nine West Bank residents have died as a result of contracting swine flu, with 187 cases of the H1N1 virus recorded, the Palestinian Authority health ministry said Saturday.

According to a Ma’an news agency report, a majority of the cases were reported in the northern West Bank, especially Jenin, with additional cases reported in Ramallah, Bethlehem and southern Hebron.

Health ministry official Asad Ramlawi said that most of the people who succumbed to the disease had weak immune systems or were suffering from pre-existing illnesses. The majority of people have gone to hospital and been treated for the virus, he said.

Children, the elderly, patients with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women are considered to be at high risk of contracting the disease.

The Palestinian health ministry said it has doubled its efforts to combat the virus and is equipped with all the necessary medicines and testing kits. Roughly 25,000 people have been vaccinated so far.

A spokesman for the Israeli health ministry said officials were monitoring the situation in the West Bank, but so far are not taking any action.