Health minister expects surge in H1N1 cases

Yasmine Saleh
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Minister of Health Hatem El-Gabaly warned of a surge in the number of H1N1 cases in Egypt by August.

During an interview on state TV Tuesday, El-Gabaly reiterated previous statements that the number of infected cases will reach thousands.

He explained that a change in seasons as well as a development in the virus will lead to the rise in number.

Ministry of Health’s official spokesperson Abdel Rahman Shahin said that while no change occurred in the virus’ genetic nature, it still has an unprecedented ability to spread quickly.

“Knowing that, we expect an increase in the number of cases, Shahin said.

According to Shahin, it is flu season in some parts of the world, another reason to expect a rise in the number of H1N1 cases.

Moreover, the upcoming Umrah and Hajj seasons, followed by the start of the academic year, are expected to contribute to the spread of the virus, he said.

El-Gabaly said that the ministry is currently discussing new precautionary measures to cope with the development in the virus.

“We are considering decreasing the number of students in each class in schools, by dividing the students in two sections, each section will come to school three days a week [Saturday holiday will be canceled] so that the number of students per class does not exceed 25, El-Gabaly said.

Shahin explained that while this is merely a suggestion, it is derived from the concern that the virus spreads in crowded places.

Shahin said El-Gabaly is expected to meet with the Ministers of Education and Higher Education next week to discuss such measures.

Shahin told Daily News Egypt that in some countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, health officials focus more on launching awareness campaigns, rather than keeping track of and reporting the number of infected cases.

In other countries however, health officials choose to be more involved by focusing on early detection of the virus and keeping track of all the cases, and offering treatment.

“We are taking the second approach because we believe that early detection and following up on the case limits the virus’ spread and that is why we only have a little over 200 cases so far, while the UK and the US have thousands, Shahin said.

On Tuesday, nine H1N1 cases were discovered in Egypt, an official ministry statement said.

Four of the new cases are Egyptians – three of which recently arrived from Saudi Arabia and one linked to a previous case. The five remaining cases are three Saudis, one Qatari and one Mexican who arrived from Holland.

By press time Wednesday, three more cases were reported, raising the country’s total to 238 cases.

According to Shahin, 159 patients have recovered.

Last week, Egypt reported its first and only death from the virus.

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