Bangladesh May Raise Swine Flu Alert Level
Saturday, 29 August 2009

Bangladesh may raise its H1N1 alert level, in light of recent jumps in the number of detected swine flu cases.

Experts at a swine flu seminar at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University on Saturday said there was no need for panic, but stressed the need for better dissemination of information about swine flu so people in both urban and rural areas could take proper treatment and take simple measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Senior scientific officer of IEDCR Mushtuq Husain told the seminar that the country was now at alert level 2 but could soon be at level 3, signalling an epidemic, as the rising number of detected cases gave an indication of the actual spread of the virus across the country.

A level 3, or epidemic alert, could only be officially declared from the prime minister's office, he added.

Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice chancellor of BSMMU, told the seminar, "The spread of swine flu is rising and we cannot remain isolated from it in this globalised world."

But he said there was no reason for panic as doctors across the country were being trained to deal with the situation.

Rise in detected cases

Nineteen more confirmed cases were most recently reported by the IEDCR on Friday, taking the total to 163.

Dr Mahmudur Rahman of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told most cases initially detected in the country arrived from overseas, but the trend had now shifted to cases infected within the country.

The largest single-day rise, of 22 cases, was reported last Wednesday, since the first case was detected in Bangladesh in June 18 this year.

'Alarming' but Bangladesh 'prepared'

Health minister AFM Ruhul Haq said earlier this month that the regional rise in H1N1 cases, and the swine flu fatalities reported in India, was 'alarming' for Bangladesh, but the country was prepared to deal with the situation.

The government has said sufficient stocks of flu drugs are in place and doctors are receiving specialised training on a rolling basis throughout the country.

Officials and experts at Saturday's seminar said the virus was now being transmitted at higher rates within the country, and the public should make use of swine flu treatment facilities in place at every district-level hospital in the country.


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