Sri Lanka kept on alert for Swine Flu
Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health issuing an alert yesterday (December 21) advised the public that expecting mothers, health officers, airport and port staff, armed forces and police personnel and patients with long term illnesses should vaccinate themselves with the AH1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine as a precautionary measure to stop another outbreak of the deadly flu in the country.
In a statement issued the Health Ministry advised that the public should take precautionary measures such as washing hands regularly, discarding items such as tissues used for personal hygiene, staying away from large public gathering and places if suffering from fever and other flue symptoms.
Nearly 300 AH1N1 cases were reported this year and 18 deaths had occurred due the AH1N1 influenza.
The public should seek immediate medical assistance if suffering from prolonged fever, headaches, body pains, vomiting, breathing difficulty, and sever cough and flue like symptoms.
Likelihood of the virus spreading from neighboring India
Last August, with the re-emergence of the Swine Flu in India, the Ministry warned of a imminent second outbreak of the deadly flu in Sri Lanka.
"The previous 400,000 vaccine stocks for the AH1N1 virus which was requested from the World Health Organization (WHO) has been distributed to island wide hospitals. Senior Epidemiologist of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Peiris said.
According to Dr. Peiris, the government has requested for another one million vaccines from the WHO, as a precautionary measure.The vaccines that have already been distributed among hospitals have been provided for free. Dr. Peiris said the steps were taken as precautionary measure because there was a high likelihood of the virus spreading to Sri Lanka from neighboring India.
Swine Flu threat persists in India
Indian authorities recently said that the swine flu threat persists in India despite WHO announcing the end of the pandemic. The WHO, which declared swine flu a pandemic in May 2009, declared it over Aug 10. According to India’s Health Ministry, in the highest number of deaths reported of swine flu in a single week, 83 people died of the virus between Aug 2 to 8. Nearly 942 cases were reported in the same week. The majority of deaths being reported are of pregnant women and old people.
The outbreak of the swine flu in many parts of the country in the latter half of 2009 resulted in over 40 deaths island-wide, with the flu spreading rapidly amongst school children, forcing schools around the country to temporarily close down, causing much havoc within the public, sending anyone with flu-like symptoms rushing to the nearest hospital out of fear that the virus had been contracted.
The epidemic was brought under control however, with hospitals being equipped
with special units to handle patients with swine flu, vaccines brought in from various countries to be administered to the patients and the public being informed of what measures should be taken to avoid contracting the virus.
Although there is still a possibility of being infected, the preventive measures taken by the Ministry of Health have worked as the number of cases, which rose rapidly last year, has now fallen. “The situation is completely under control and the number of cases has dropped drastically. More than 90% of the hospitalized patients have now returned home”, assured the Head of the Epidemiology Unit, Dr. Paba Palihawadena.
- Asian Tribune -