Flu kills over 100 people in Russia

January 29, 2016 7:50 am 

MOSCOW, Jan. 29 — Over 100 people have died in the last three weeks in Russia of complications from flu, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said Thursday.

"As of yesterday, 107 people died including four pregnant women and eight children," Interfax news agency quoted Skvortsova as saying.

All of the victims had not been vaccinated and did not seek medical advice in time, she said, adding that the current death toll means little as the major swine flu epidemic killed 687 people in Russia back in 2009.

"Around 4,500 people died of heart attacks, 6,000 of strokes, and 1,000 were killed in road accidents in Russia over the same period," the minister said.

However, Skvortsova said, the country is well prepared for this year's flu outbreak and pharmacies have sufficient stocks of anti-viral drugs and protective masks.

The minister also predicted the epidemic would peak in the next two weeks and dwindles by the end of February.

Russia's sanitary and epidemiological watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said in an online statement that the nationwide flu and other acute respiratory epidemic threshold had been exceeded in 47 out of 95 Russian regions so far.

It also noted that not a single case of the disease has been registered among vaccinated people, while nearly 45 million people in the entire country, or 30 percent of the total population, have been vaccinated against flu this year.

Many cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg have declared a flu epidemic, and some others like Yekaterinburg in the Urals and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Kamchatka peninsula have announced school closures.

Meanwhile, Skvortsova also said measures like flight control should be taken in order to prevent imported cases of the Zika virus, which is linked to brain shrinkage in children and has caused panic in brazil with thousands of people having been infected there.

"We know that this epidemic is not a threat to us," said Skvortsova, who briefed President Vladimir Putin about a study on a vaccine against Zika fever Wednesday.

The Zika virus is expected to spread to the United States and every country in the Western hemisphere where Aedes mosquitoes, which spread the virus, are known to live, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Aedes mosquitoes live in every Western hemisphere country except Canada and Chile. (PNA/Xinhua)



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