Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health said that seasonal cases of H1N1 are normal. But what if the H1N1 outbreak claims more lives?
Rabat – A deadly H1N1 outbreak has killed at least five people in Morocco, announced the Ministry of Health yesterday. The flu’s first victim was a pregnant woman who died earlier this week in Casablanca.
Until Thursday evening, only two deaths were reported. In the weekly government press conference Thursday afternoon, journalists expressed concerns over the outbreak of the H1N1 flu.
Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi told the press that only two deaths were reported: A pregnant woman, 34, and a 68-year-old woman who had other chronic diseases. Thursday night, however, the Ministry of Health announced that five people had died of H1N1 in public and private health facilities.
Minister of Health Anas Doukkali said that the H1N1 flu is the “dominant subtype this year, like all countries in the world.”
He added that the ministry is still “maintaining an epidemiological watch.”
Doukkali also reassured the public that the situation is not exceptional and called on Morocans not to panic.
Is this normal?
The director of Pasteur Institute in Morocco, Abderrahman Maaroufi, also reassured Moroccan citizens that cases of the flu in Morocco is common and normal, and the situation is not concerning at all.
Ali Lotfi, the chairman of the Moroccan Network for the Defense of Health Rights, argued that it is not really normal to have five deaths.
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Lotfi wrote on his Facebook, “We have five deaths already … is it perfectly normal?!”
“Tomorrow, the same director will tell us that scorpion bites do not require serum against venom in the summer,” he said.
Lotfi explained that the disease is “highly contagious and easily spread.” Lotfi added that the Ministry of Health should have mobilized counter influenza medicines. He said that 98 percent of the cases could be cured if the medicines were offered in the first 48 hours after diagnosis.
After the death of the 34-year-old pregnant woman in Casablanca, her husband criticized the “negligence” and belated intervention of doctors to treat his wife. He also condemned the ministry’s initiative to “reassure” people while his son was fighting for life, saying: “I lost my wife because of other people’s mistakes and now I am losing my son.”
The baby, whom doctors delivered via emergency caesarean section, also died, but it is unclear whether he died because of H1N1.
The government is certain that the situation is under control.
Like Doukkali and Maaroufi, El Khalfi also reassured the press that the health department is taking measures to counter the virus.
What the symptoms are and what to do if you have them
According to El Khalfi, the seasonal outbreak had a late start this year: Curing the week from December 17 to 23, 2018. The epidemic reached its peak during the week from January 7 to 13.
He also warned citizens to take precautions and emphasized the importance of vaccination, which is key to preventing the spread and contraction of the virus.
Doukkali informed the weekly government council on Thursday that his ministry has put in place a communication plan with the media to raise awareness about influenza, which is not unusual. Doukkali said that the measure is only to warn citizens of prevention measures and how to react if they get the flu.
According to the minister, an analysis of 541 samples from flu victims found that the epidemiological situation is similar to that recorded internationally.
Symptoms of H1N1 include fever, sore throat, a stuffy and runny nose, headaches, body aches, and continuous fatigue. People with such symptoms should stay home, get treatment, and cover their nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing.
The unaffected public should also take general precautions like using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if using public restrooms, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoiding contact with people who have flu symptoms.
If people have a weakened immune system or chronic illness, including diabetes or heart conditions, they should see a doctor if they begin to experience any flu symptoms.
The H1N1 virus was first discovered in April 2009 in California. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the illness a pandemic in June 2009.
The virus killed 575,400 people in that year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.