Myanmar seeks aid from WHO to battle swine flu outbreak

July 31, 2017

Health authorities in Myanmar have asked the World Health Organization (WHO) for help in battling a deadly swine flu outbreak in the country that has already infected more than 30 people and killed at least six people over the last week.

Most of the victims are from the country’s biggest city, Yangon, a senior health ministry official said.

Fearful rumors have swirled on social media since the first deaths were reported and many Yangon residents have donned surgical masks in the hope of warding off the virus.

Government officials have called for calm and warned the public to avoid crowded places such as shopping malls.

Than Tun Aung, deputy director general of the public health department, said they have already requested help from the WHO, including diagnosis equipment and medicine. Thirty people have tested positive for H1N1 as of July 27, out of 50 suspected cases registered since July19, he said.  And six patients have died.

The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 virus, a respiratory disease contracted through contact between humans and pigs and transmitted between people through inhalation.

The infections in Yangon are from the same strain that was first identified in 2009, when a global pandemic broke out that US scientists believe may have killed up to 575,000 people.

Myanmar was caught up in the outbreak, and registered a total of 456 cases of swine flu between 2009 to 2016.

The concerns come as authorities in southern Myanmar on Thursday announced a five-day school shutdown after an outbreak of bird flu at a local poultry farm. More than 1,000 chickens have reportedly been culled to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

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