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Woman dies in second H1N1 fatality as cases rise above 100

According to the Health Protection Agency, the number of confirmed H1N1 cases has reached 105 out of 335 suspected cases tested as of Tuesday.



A 51-year-old woman who tested positive for the H1N1 swine flu virus died Wednesday night while undergoing treatment at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé.

Local media has identified the deceased as Fathmath Ismail from the island of Nilandhoo in Faafu atoll. Family members told newspaper Mihaaru that she was breathing with the help of a ventilator when she passed away.

The IGMH has yet to confirm the cause of death to the media.

A 27-year-old man who died on March 4 of acute respiratory distress syndrome had also tested positive for H1N1.

Citing a family member, Mihaaru reported that the woman was transferred to the main public hospital in Malé earlier this week after she showed symptoms of high fever and body aches.

According to online paper VFP, the deceased was a kidney patient who was taken to IGMH for dialysis when she tested positive for the H1N1 virus type.

In its daily update on the flu outbreak, the Health Protection Agency meanwhile revealed that the number of confirmed H1N1 cases has reached 105 out of 335 suspected cases tested as of Tuesday.

Since the 2009 pandemic when it was a new strain, the H1N1 swine flu virus is now “similar to any other influenza and not any more severe or dangerous,” the HPA previously explained, but children under five years of age, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions such as lung or heart diseases are at risk of developing life-threatening complications like pneumonia.

Both the IGMH and ADK started offering the influenza vaccine to pregnant women on Wednesday. The vaccine is also available for pregnant women from atoll and regional hospitals.

On Thursday, the civil service, independent institutions, and state-owned companies approved paid leave for pregnant women.

The Civil Service Commission and the Elections Commission advised pregnant women to stay home until further notice whilst the Human Rights Commission offered paid leave for employees with an immediate family member affected by the illness.

Citing the flu outbreak, the prisons authority meanwhile temporarily suspended family and conjugal visits for inmates.

Makeshift flu clinics set by the two tertiary hospitals in the capital have been swamped since the rapid increase of H1N1 cases prompted health authorities on Monday night to advise closing schools.

Schools, state universities and most private colleges in the capital remain closed. Several scheduled events, competitions and inter-school tournaments have also been postponed.

The HPA has also advised against non-essential travel between Malé and the atolls during next week’s half-term school holidays.

The health ministry said about 3,000 flu and viral cases a week were previously reported across the Maldives, but the number of cases rose to about 5,000 a week on average in late February.

According to the HPA, 1,076 flu consultations were recorded in the atolls on Wednesday with 22 admissions. Consultations at flu clinics in Malé and its suburbs numbered 739 with eight admissions.

The private ADK hospital also launched a mobile flu clinic on Thursday afternoon.

Volunteers from the Maldives Red Crescent meanwhile conducted flu awareness sessions for expatriates living in Vilimalé.

On Thursday morning, some media outlets reported that a 59-year-old woman who died at the Baa atoll hospital the previous night was undergoing treatment for respiratory problems.

But Ahmed Waheed, the hospital’s director, told the Maldives Independent that contrary the patient died of high fever.

She was suffering from a respiratory condition but did not show flu symptoms, he said.

“She didn’t show any symptoms of the swine flu and we do not have testing facilities here in the atoll hospital,” he said.

The only testing facility in the country is the national laboratory at IGMH.

Waheed noted that the atoll hospital has seen an increasing number of viral fever and flu cases.

According to HPA statistics, 49 consultations and one admission were reported from Baa atoll. Outside of the capital, the highest number of consultations was reported from Haa Dhaal atoll with 116 consultations and two admissions, followed by Laamu atoll (101 consultations and three admissions) and Kaafu atoll (88 consultations).