Minnesota has recorded two more deaths associated with the H1N1 virus, state health officials said Wednesday, but all other indicators continue to show an ebb in the flu outbreak.

Only one patient was hospitalized with flu symptoms in the week ending on Jan. 2, and "sentinel'' clinics that report data to the state said that just 2.59 percent of their patients were reporting flu-like symptoms. There were no new outbreaks in long-term care facilities and no new school outbreaks, though most schools were closed for the holiday break.

Most indicators of the virus have dropped sharply since the fall wave of the outbreak peaked in October.

In its final weekly update for 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health said 54 Minnesotans died from H1N1 since the virus first appeared in the state last spring, and 1,578 were hospitalized with H1N1. Overall, there were 60 flu-related deaths, including one attributed to influenza-B, a different strain, and five from an unspecified strain.

Federal authorities have made 2.265 million doses of H1N1 vaccine available to Minnesota, with the result that the Health Department has lifted its restrictions on who can get H1N1 shots and is encouraging the general public to get vaccinated to prevent a third wave of the outbreak.

DAVE HAGE