Egypt’s Swine flu death total rises to 24

Egypt’s Swine flu death total rises to 24

 CAIRO: Egypt reported over the weekend that a 56-year-old man from Alexandria, the country’s second largest city, has become the 24th victim of the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as Swine flu. The health ministry said that the man suffered from a fever, dyspnea and renal failure before succumbing to the virus.

His death came only hours after a 23-year-old pregnant woman died of the deadly virus in the southern governorate of Aswan.

The ministry did not reveal more details of the two deaths, but fears continue to grow in Egypt that a major pandemic could surface if actions are not taken immediately to curtail the virus’ spread.

Despite the growing number of deaths, the ministry remains optimistic of the country’s outlook with the virus.

Amr Kandil, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Preventive Affairs, stressed that the virus has not mutated and said that the high rate of infection per day is not indicative of a mutation. However, Awad Mahgour, Director of Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organization stressed that the virus has already mutated in a number of countries, “but slowly and in a restricted context.”

For his part, Kandil said in a press statement, that high rates of infection and the rise in the number of infected people during the months of December and January are expected to rise due to the onset of winter. He said that the influenza outbreak “might calm with the start of February” and described the death rate of Swine Flu in Egypt as “reassuring,” because it didn’t exceed the world average.

“That the death rate in Egypt is 6 out of every thousand cases, while the world average is 13 per thousand cases,” is a positive sign, he said.

The undersecretary added that all the deaths recorded by the Ministry of Health are people who originally had been suffering from chronic diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, hepatitis, tumors or were pregnant, which means that “these cases died as a result from the complications of the disease and not the infection itself.”

The WHO argued that the virus is already mutating and has been recorded in more than one country from Norway to France, but this mutation, he says, “is progressing slowly and is not resistant to available drugs and vaccines such as Tamiflu.” The WHO also expects to see a rise in the infection rate during winter, which are traditionally flu months.

To date, Egypt has seen well over 3,000 reported cases of the deadly Swine flu.