Influenza decreases by 49% BUT health warns “we are not yet in the clear”
Though over the peak, we are not yet in the clear: practice all preventative measures against Respiratory Infections
Nationally, there’s been a 49% decrease in the total number of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) cases reported between Aug 19 and 25 with 1729 cases compared to 3370 cases reported in the preceding week. A significant decline in case numbers was noted across all sentinel sites in Honiara (Kukum clinic, Mataniko clinic, NRH and Rove clinic), Malaita (Atoifi Hospital, Auki clinic, and Kilu’ufi Hospital), Guadalcanal (Good Samaritan Hospital) and Makira (Kirakira Hospital).
However, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services said: “We are still not yet in the clear as an increasing number of ILI cases are being reported in Gizo and Taro, and Lata where the number of cases increased between August 19 and 25 compared to the preceding week.”
Overall This is the highest as compared to previous Influenza-Like Illnesses outbreaks in the past 10 years.
With regards to age groups affected, the majority of cases were aged from 0 to 39 years; however, all age groups from 0 to 60 plus were affected. The age group with the most cases are those 5 years and below with more females presenting at the health facilities than males.
Since July there have been 1,593 respiratory presentations at NRH Emergency Department. Of these, there have been 10 respiratory- related deaths. 5 of these deaths were amongst ages between 44 to 84 years that have underlying health conditions and the other 5 were amongst children aged 0 to 14 years, 2 of whom had known underlying condition. Of the 10 deaths, 4 had influenza A H3, 1 with chlamydia pneumonia, 2 had no swabs taken, 1 swab was invalid and 1 swab returned negative for any viruses or bacteria and the other result is still pending.
Laboratory testing continues to show Respiratory viruses as the cause for the outbreak of current flu like illness experienced with Influenza A Rhinovirus/Enterovirus, adenovirus and all causes of the common cold or flu. However, these viruses can cause severe diseases, hospitalization, and deaths in certain people who are more at risk such as small children and older adults, people with co-existing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and obesity etc. The cases of respiratory illnesses undergo testing for SARS-Cov_2m that causes COVID-19, but the number of samples tested positive for COVID are very low.
With this, the Ministry of Health is calling on the public to remain vigilant and continue to practice all public safe measures of;
- Wearing of masks in public places such as along the streets, at the markets, inside of stores, and when traveling by public transport, buses and taxis.
- Constantly practice hand washing with soap or hand sanitizer
- Maintain social distance of at least two meters from another person as much as possible.
- Avoid public or large gatherings
- Avoid visitation to families and friends in another household
- Maintain personal hygiene at all times.
To those experiencing these flu-like symptoms, drink plenty of warm water and take Panadol, if fever persists or breathing difficulty is noted and for babies and children please consult our doctors at your nearest health clinic. Rest well and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
It is also important that malaria is ruled out by getting tested at your nearest clinic or private clinic once you develop fever.
Parents and guardians, you are advised to pay close attention to your babies and children. Should you notice shortness of breath or fast breathing or even if you have a slight worry for your baby or child don’t hesitate but quickly take them to the nearest clinic.
Keep your children at home and away from school if they are experiencing flu, cough, and fever. Symptoms should subside after 3 to 4 days. If symptoms persist beyond 5 days get them to the nearest clinic.
For those with asthma, heart diseases etc. your health and life are at great risk from this flu outbreak therefore urgently seek medical attention at your nearest clinic if you develop flu symptoms.
The public is also advised to not acquire or purchase over-the-counter antibiotics such as amoxicillin or any other medical drugs to treat the current flu. Antibiotics are not to treat viral infections and are of no use in the current outbreak. Any antibiotics or medical drugs acquired or purchased must be done with prescriptions from the doctor.