Maldivians warned of influenza threat in India

Maldivians travelling to India have been warned by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) about the spread of influenza in the north of the country.

HPA’s Epidemiologist Dr Aishath Aruna told Sun Online that the virus had been misreported in local media as swine flu. Instead, influenza H1N1 is not swine flu and is less dangerous.

So far 450 people have been affected by influenza in Rajasthan in northern India, of which 94 people have died from the virus.

Local media reported that most of the deaths have been pregnant women and that the chances of the virus spreading to other parts of the country are high.

Dr Aruna told local media that influenza H1N1 virus had been observed in the Maldives since 2010, and that the virus prolongs and intensifies the symptoms of common colds.

Maldivians visiting India are advised to avoid crowds, wash hands with soap frequently – especially after coughing or sneezing – and make sure to receive vaccinations should your doctor advise you to.


No calls for Sri Lanka travel ban despite “Influenza Pandemic” caution, says CCHDC

The Maldives Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) has said it is not advising people against travelling to Sri Lanka amidst concerns about a recent rise in cases of the H1N1 influenza virus in the country, adding that no cases of the disease have been confirmed in the Maldives of late.

According to the CCHDC, data from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition’s Epidemiology Unit has recorded 342 cases of the disease, which in turn has been linked to 22 deaths in the country. Sri Lankan authorities have said that the country, particularly around the city of Colombo, is undergoing an “epidemic of Pandemic Influenza”, with 65 cases of H1N1 occurring just last week – between December 13 to December 19 – resulting in nine deaths across the country.

An official from the CCHDC told Minivan News that it was not calling for any travel restrictions as a result of the influenza report, but added that the centre did urge any travellers to be cautious when visiting the country.

In terms of caution, the centre urges travellers to maintain basic hygiene measures like washing hands, particularly among those most susceptible to the disease such as pregnant women, children and the elderly.

“The disease is spread by the respiratory routes, so we recommend avoiding crowded areas as much as possible, particularly as measures like wearing masks will not really help,” said a spokesperson for the centre.

Regular washing of the hands with soap was strongly recommended by the CCHCD, which said it had not had any confirmed cases of the virus recently in the Maldives, thought the centre claimed it would continue to keep the public informed.

However, beyond precautionary measures, the CCHCD has said that anyone developing a fever, a cold or a cough upon returning from Sri Lanka or being in contact with other travellers should try and obtain medical advice as soon as possible.

More information for those concerned about the virus is available by calling 3315334.