H1N1 flu outbreak kills 2 more in Myanmar

Men wear masks as they walk in the downtown area in Yangon, on July 24, 2017.
Men wear masks as they walk in the downtown area in Yangon, on July 24, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar health officials said on Tuesday (July 25) that two more people had died after contracting H1N1 influenza in the largest city, Yangon, a day after the government said more than a dozen people had contracted the virus known as swine flu.

A pregnant woman and a man died at Yangon General Hospital on Monday, and lab tests later showed that they were both infected with H1N1, said Ms Thinzar Aung, deputy director of the infectious diseases department at the Ministry of Health and Sport.

"Initially, these people sought treatment at Yangon General Hospital on July 24, with suspected pneumonia," she said.

The Health Ministry on Monday confirmed the virus had infected three other people in Yangon and 10 people in Matupi, a town in the remote north-western state of Chin.

A six-year-old boy who died with severe respiratory problems in Matupi on July 14 was also suspected to have contracted H1N1, according to health officials.

The ministry called for the public not to panic, describing the cases of H1N1 as a regular seasonal phenomenon.

No outbreak of H1N1 has been reported in Myanmar since the global swine flu pandemic in 2009, when the virus spread to most countries in the world and infected dozens of people in Myanmar.

An official told Reuters on Monday the government had no vaccines for swine flu.

Mr Win Lwin, director of Yangon's regional health department, confirmed the first two H1N1 deaths in the city on Monday, but said he did not have any information on additional cases. He said: "We still don't get any new information on the spread of H1N1. We are continuously searching.

"We release warnings in the newspaper every day telling people how to protect against infection."

Myanmar's Livestock Ministry has also reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in the south of the country, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Tuesday.

More than 1,800 chickens were culled after the virus was detected last month at a farm in Dawei, 370km south-east of Yangon.