CAIRO: While the World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic is over, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has yet to discuss the removal or reevaluation of its precautionary measures placed during the duration of the pandemic.
The number of cases of swine flu in Egypt reached 16,356, said Nasr El-Sayed, assistant to the Minister of Health. These include 280 deaths.
El-Sayed pointed out that they will definitely follow and keep in mind any recommendations placed by the WHO regarding the post-pandemic period.
In a statement Tuesday, the WHO outlined a number of recommendations for health authorities during the post-pandemic period, noting that “While the level of concern has greatly diminished, vigilance on the part of national health authorities remains important. Such vigilance is especially critical in the immediate post-pandemic period, when the behavior of the H1N1 (2009) virus as a seasonal virus cannot be reliably predicted.”
These recommendations include monitoring respiratory disease activity and vaccination as it remains important as a means of reducing the fatalities caused by influenza viruses. “WHO strongly recommends vaccination of high-risk individuals in countries where influenza vaccines are available,” it stated.
Swine flu was first reported in Egypt in June 2009. The outbreak of the pandemic started in November of the same year and up until January 2010 as the number of cases skyrocketed from 2,226 up to 8,064.
It started decreasing in February as 284 cases were detected and has been substantially decreasing since. During March, April and May, the number of cases found ranged from 56 to 93 each month.
The number of swine flu related deaths was the highest in January with 122 fatalities, then in December with 115 fatalities. In February there were 12 deaths and during March, April and May three deaths in total. Seventy-nine percent of those who passed away had chronic illnesses, noted El-Sayed.
The ministry’s last official statement on swine flu was on June 1, which said that there hasn’t been any laboratory evidence regarding an upcoming wave of swine flu. Furthermore, the ministry said that there haven’t been any mutations in the virus or any cases of resistance towards the Tamiflu.
The highest number of swine flu cases reported in Egypt was during the last week of December, approximately 2,650 cases, after which the government decided to stop issuing daily reports on the pandemic and making them weekly instead.
A(H1N1) influenza has killed more than 18,449 people and affected some 214 countries and territories since it was uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April 2009, according to WHO data.
The new virus spread swiftly worldwide despite emergency containment measures including a week long shutdown in Mexico, prompting the UN health agency to scale up its alerts and declare a pandemic on June 11, 2009.