• Arts
  • February 24, 2010
  • 3 minutes read

Egypt: Bird flu may be down but not out

Egypt: Bird flu may be down but not out

The number of H1N1 influenza patients has fallen sharply in Egypt since the start of 2010, but health officials say they are bracing for a second wave of infections

The Health Ministry said it is recording 500 infections a week, as against 2,500 a week last December

“We’re still on high alert, nevertheless” Amr Qandeel, head of the Preventive Medicine Section at the Egyptian Health Ministry, told sources. “Our hospitals and labs are ready to receive patients and test samples to ensure that the virus does not spread on a wide scale. H1N1 influenza first hit Egypt in July 2009. To date, over 16,000 people have been infected and more than 260 have died

Most cases have been reported in schools and universities in Cairo and Alexandria, where high population density makes the spread of the virus more likely, health officials stressed

Some health experts have attributed recent declines in H1N1 cases to school mid-year breaks, which began in early February and ended on February 19

“The virus is now in the lowest part of its curve,” explained Mohamed Abdul Meguid, the director of Abassiya Fever Hospital, a treatment centre for H1N1 patients. “However we expect it may be active again in a matter of a few weeks

Meanwhile, the Egyptian media have been speculating whether the H1N1 threat merits the level of government expenditure on mitigation measures

“This virus is even less dangerous than normal influenza, which kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year,” said Fathi Shabana, a leading fever specialist.

Of the 96 Egyptians who have contracted avian influenza since the first case in 2006, there have been 28 deaths

However, Amr Qandeel said the government’s preventive measures had “succeeded in minimizing infections adding that those who had died of the H1N1 virus mostly had pre-existing health problems, the Health Ministry said