Sep 7, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Flu activity is continuing at various intensity levels, with India reporting more deaths, Australia reporting increasing numbers of cases late in its flu season, and transmission declining in New Zealand.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) on Aug 10 moved to a post-peak pandemic phase, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan yesterday repeated warnings that countries should stay alert for the 2009 H1N1 virus to limit the impact of outbreaks, Voice of America (VOA) reported today.
Chan, who spoke at the start of a 4-day WHO meeting in Bangkok with health officials from the agency's South-East Asia region, said the 2009 H1N1 virus remains a serious health risk, according to VOA. She added that the WHO is seeing localized outbreaks and some continuing "hot spots," which were expected in the post-peak phase.
"Let me remind you the pandemic virus has not gone away," Chan said. She said the virus is especially a threat to young people and pregnant women.
India's health ministry said today that in the week ending Sep 5 it had received at least 128 reports of 2009 H1N1 deaths, NetIndian News Network reported. The deaths were reported across 12 Indian states, but most were from Maharashtra (45), Gujarat (13), Madhya Pradesh (12), and Karnataka (9). India is in the midst of its second wave of infections, which was triggered by monsoon rains earlier this summer.
Australia's health ministry, in its update for the week ending Aug 27, said flu activity is increasing, with the highest number of lab confirmations in South Australia and Queensland states. Of 335 confirmed cases reported that week, 221 involved the 2009 H1N1 virus.
The country reported 12 flu hospitalizations during the surveillance week, of which 11 were for 2009 H1N1 infections. Surveillance systems reported three intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations during the same time period.
Meanwhile, New Zealand, which over the past several weeks has been reporting intense flu activity, said yesterday that the number of new cases was declining to levels seen at this time in 2008.
The country reported one more death linked to the virus, raising the total to 17. The health ministry said 11 people were currently receiving ICU treatment for their infections.
Sep 7 Voice of America story
Sep 6 New Zealand flu activity report
Sep 7 Chan address to WHO South-East Asia region health ministers meeting