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Health Ministry insists H1N1 flu not a problem

By Khetam Malkawi - Apr 07,2015 - Last updated at Apr 07,2015

AMMAN — Despite registering six H1N1 flu-related deaths in Jordan since the beginning of the year, the Health Ministry insisted Tuesday that the disease is now considered a seasonal flu and there is no need to announce a state of emergency.

Ministry Spokesperson Hatem Azrui told The Jordan Times the number of cases diagnosed with the disease was similar to the same period last year, but they were not as heavily covered in the media at the time.

The ministry has registered 152 cases and six fatalities cases of H1N1(swine) flu so far this year, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Also on Tuesday, the Anti-Pandemic National Committee stressed the quality of preventive and treatment procedures the Ministry of Health follows in dealing with the H1N1 flu, according to Petra.

At a committee meeting in the ministry, Health Minister Ali Hiasat said changing negative social practices, such as kissing at social occasions, is an important factor in limiting the spread of H1N1.

Mohammad Abdallat, director of the ministry’s communicable diseases control department, said the fatalities registered this year were among high-risk groups, Petra reported. 

Azrui argued that reporting about the disease in the media has created more fear among the public, although the H1N1 flu is like any seasonal flu and in both cases those who are categorised as risk groups should take the flu vaccine and immediately see a doctor if they exhibit any symptoms.

As for the H1N1 vaccine, he said the ministry only vaccinates medics and other workers in public hospitals and health centres.

The spokesperson said the vaccine is available in pharmacies and private hospitals like any other vaccine.

“Still the vaccine is not listed as part of the national vaccination programme,” Azrui noted.

Earlier this week, ministry officials also stressed that there is no need to panic as it is “well-prepared” to deal with new cases.

“The people most vulnerable to the strain are children under five years old, those over 65, dialysis patients, pregnant women and the obese,” Abdallat said in previous remarks to the press, noting that young people can also be infected due to the frequent change of virus behaviour.

He said that around 3 to 5 million people are annually infected around the world, with a death toll estimated at 3 per cent, while the local rate stands at 2.2 per cent. 

Deaths of H1N1-related complications cannot be stopped in Jordan or anywhere else in the world, Abdallat noted.

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