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Danger still out there
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 09 - 12 - 2010

Two women died -- one from swine flu and the other from bird flu, Reem Leila reports
The Ministry of Health announced on 6 December the death of two women in the Delta from swine flu and bird flu. The swine flu victim was a pharmacist, 30, from Damanhour in Beheira governorate. The victim was hospitalised on 17 November after developing flu-like symptoms including fatigue, sore throat, coughing, and pain in the bones and muscles.
On the same day, Abdel-Rahman Shahin, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said a 30- year-old housewife in Gharbiya died from bird flu, the country's 37th death since the virus first hit Egypt in February 2006. It was also the 10th bird flu fatality in 2010.
Shahin warned that the number of deaths related to swine flu might rise in the coming months because the Health Ministry expects an outbreak of the H1N1 virus in the near future.
After a summer of near absence, swine flu re-appeared with 136 reported cases during late October and November, among them 70 new cases discovered this week. "But there is nothing the public should fear. The cases are considered few when compared to the number of the country's overall population," Shahin argued.
In August the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the world had entered the post-pandemic phase. However, it did not mean H1N1 had disappeared. In a press statement issued at the time, "based on experience with past pandemics, WHO officials expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and to continue to circulate for some years to come. In the post-pandemic period, localised outbreaks of different magnitude may show significant levels of H1N1 transmission."
Shahin advises the public to take all precautionary measures against the virus including washing hands, proper ventilation at workplace, home and public transportation, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding crowded places. "School students must abide by hygiene measures in order to avoid being infected," added Shahin.
In March, the Central Operation Room of Crisis and Disaster Management at the Information and Decision Support Centre at the Cabinet of Ministers announced that the number of people who have contracted swine flu in Egypt had decreased by nearly half.
Deputy Minister of Health for Precautionary Affairs Nasr El-Sayed said swine flu was being monitored in more than 450 hospitals across the country.


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