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‘130 cases of H1N1 flu, 5 related deaths registered this year’

By Merza Noghai - Apr 05,2015 - Last updated at Apr 05,2015

AMMAN — The ministry has registered 130 cases of H1N1(swine) flu and five related fatalities since the beginning of 2015, the Health Ministry said Sunday, adding that that there is no need to panic as it is “well-prepared” to deal with new cases.

“The people most vulnerable to the strain are children under five years old, those over 65, dialysis patients, pregnant women and the obese,” Mohammad Abdallat, director of the ministry’s communicable diseases control department, told reporters, noting that young people can also be infected due to the frequent change of virus behaviour.

He said that around 3 to 5 million people are annually infected in the world, with a death toll estimated at 3 per cent, while the local rate stands at 2.2 per cent, noting that deaths of H1N1-related complications cannot be stopped in Jordan or anywhere else in the world.

“Only severe cases are registered in the Kingdom, which range between 150 and 200 each year, and the ministry does not record other cases, since they do not pose any threat to patients,” Abdallat said.

Also speaking at the press conference, Health Ministry Secretary General Daifallah Lozi said H1N1 flu is a viral disease which constantly changes and usually spreads in winter, with its symptoms appearing suddenly and affecting the respiratory system.

“Symptoms generally include fever, coughing and a sore throat, with possible vomiting and diarrhoea among children,” Lozi said, adding that the ministry has been able to control the strain ever since it emerged in the world and Jordan in 2009 and has provided necessary vaccines and medicines.

The H1N1 virus first emerged in Jordan in June 2009 with 3,049 cases and 16 related fatalities registered in the country that year.

The strain re-emerged in December 2010, causing 289 illnesses and 17 related deaths.

“The World Health Organisation [WHO] afterwards announced that the strain is a seasonal flu that affects the human respiratory system and is no longer pandemic,” the secretary general added.

The most common ways of infection are direct contact with a patient or his/her secretions, Lozi said.

He stressed the need to take preventive measures when dealing with patients and those who mix with them.

“On social occasions people are asked to only shake hands [without kissing] and avoid drinking from the same glass, in addition to advising any person with symptoms to go to a health centre, since patients in the first phases of the strain can be fully treated,” Lozi added.

He also stated that the ministry has established inspection centres across the Kingdom to ensure early discovery of new cases, noting that it is in continuous contact with WHO, whose experts visited Jordan three weeks ago and praised the procedures used to deal with the disease.

The ministry in 2009 bought JD9 million vaccines that people refused to take, arguing they were not tested, Lozi said, adding that the vaccines expired and were destroyed.

Bashir Qaseer, head of the Health Ministry’s primary health directorate, said preventive and treatment procedures are in place to deal with the H1N1 flu.

“Preventive measures include issuing awareness brochures through media outlets; broadcasting health messages through television on precautionary practices; and providing a vaccine against all flu viruses including H1N1,” Qaseer said.

Regarding treatment procedures, he noted that the ministry, since the beginning of autumn, has provided the necessary medication at all public hospitals and the local market, in addition to opening a specialised laboratory that is available on official holidays.

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