Swine flu threat decreases as alert level rises to six

The ministry of health has announced it has raised the H1N1 swine flu alert level from four to six.

Despite the counterintuitive increase, alert level six is when the danger of the disease goes down and the risk of it spreading also decreases.

Dr Ibrahim Yasir, director general of health services, said “The disease has not spread in the way we predicted it might. We expected the disease to spread [more] with the start of the academic year and people returning from abroad.”

He said the spread of the disease had been controlled by the hard work of people in the health sector, “the priority given to the pandemic by the government and the awareness of the public.

“Since we didn’t see an increase in the spread of the disease we decided it didn’t warrant a level five alert status,” he said.

The ministry announced that with the level six status many, of the H1N1 precautions would be lifted.

Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed from the Centre of Disease Control said “Our warnings about not to gather in public places have been lifted, and places like KudaKudhinge Bageecha (children’s park) can now be opened.

“Our swine flu clinic is closing as hardly anyone who goes there any more, and the 24-hour hotline is also being closed.”

Jamsheed said lifting the precautions “does not mean we have to stop being vigilant. There is still a possibility that the disease could spread.”

Next step

The ministry announced that it would now divert its resources towards preparing for the next outbreak.

“We have 120,000 people who have been classified as a prioirty group to receive swine flu vaccines,” Dr Yasir said.

According to the ministry, vaccine doses promised to the Maldives so far include 20,000 from Saudi Arabia, 30,000 from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 15,000 from China, 1500 from Singapore and 50,000 from the government’s own budget.

“The Chinese doses have not been approved by the WHO yet so we are keeping that on hold for the moment,” Jamsheed noted.