WHO has issued an assessment of the situation in the Ukraine. Here is the timeline of events:
- October 28 – The Ukraine Ministry of Health (UMH) informed WHO about an unusually high level of acute respiratory illness activity in the western part of the country, associated with an increased number of hospital admissions and fatalities.
- October 20 – UMH announced the confirmation of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection by RT-PCR in eleven out of 30 samples obtained from patients presenting with acute respiratory illness in two of the most affected regions. Tests were performed in two laboratories in Kyiv, including the National Influenza Centre. Confirmatory tests will be performed at one of the WHO Collaborating Centers for Influenza.
- The situation is quickly changing with increasingly high levels of acute respiratory illness (ARI)/Influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity being observed in Ternopil, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Chernivtsi regions. The higher levels of transmission in these regions correspond to an increased number of hospital admissions and fatalities associated with severe manifestations of acute respiratory illness.
- October 30 – Over 2,300 individuals have been admitted to hospital, including over 1,100 children. One hundred and thirty one (131) cases have required intensive care, including 32 children.
- October 31 – A total of 38 fatalities associated with severe manifestations of ARI have been registered. Preliminary epidemiological data analysis indicates that severe cases and deaths primarily occur among previously healthy young adults aged 20 – 50 years. Fatal and severe cases are reported to have sought medical attention 5 to 7 days after onset of symptoms.
International experience of the (H1N1) 2009 pandemic to date, especially from the Southern Hemisphere, has shown that poor clinical outcomes are associated with delays in seeking health care and limited access to supportive care. In addition, this virus has also shown its ability to cause rapidly progressive overwhelming lung disease that is very difficult to treat.
The Government of the Ukraine has activated coordination mechanisms to respond to the rapidly evolving situation, including the harmonization of response plans across all administrative levels. In response to the request from the UMH, WHO is deploying a multi-disciplinary team of experts to assist national authorities in mitigating the impact of the pandemic. The team comprises of the following expertise: health emergencies coordination, case management, epidemiology, laboratory diagnostics, logistics, and media/risk communications.
As per WHO’s communication in May 2009, there is no rationale for travel restrictions because such measures will not prevent the spread of the disease. Travelers can protect themselves and others by following simple recommendations aimed at preventing the spread of infection such as attention to respiratory hygiene. Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travelers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures that can limit the spread of many communicable diseases and not only the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus.
IRAQ: SWINE FLU PANIC SHUTS DOWN 2,000 SCHOOLS
Panic over the possible spread of H1N1 influenza has prompted the closure of more than 2,000 schools in Iraq, according to officials. Education Minister Khudhair Al-Khuzaie said the unauthorized closure of schools was “illegal and unprofessional” and blamed “exaggerated media reports that have created such a panic”.”]A few days later, other cases were confirmed in six Baghdad schools. “We’ve also closed them and that brings the total number of schools closed based on decisions issued by the Health Ministry to seven,” Jaafar told IRIN.
“Unjustified panic” had prompted some officials in southern Iraq to close schools where no H1N1 cases had been detected, a measure “unacceptable to the Health Ministry,” Jaafar said. Schools should only be closed for a week if a teacher and 2-3 students have the disease, Jaafar said. Those infected would be quarantined and the school sterilized. Students and infected students’ families would be closely monitored, he added.