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50 dead as number of influenza cases jumps dramatically

FIFTY PEOPLE have been killed by seasonal influenza, which has hit more than 30,000 people this year, prompting the Public Health Ministry to be on alert.

Public Health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat said he had instructed all public and private hospitals to be on alert for possible cases of infection with the H1N1 virus, a virulent seasonal-flu virus.

Doctors were asked to administer the Oseltamivir drug to patients immediately if their condition does not improve in two days.

Narong said the Public Health Ministry had received reports that since the beginning of the year till Friday, there had been 30,024 seasonal influenza cases, and most of the illness was caused by the H1N1 virus.

Compared with the same period last year, the influenza cases jumped by 36 per cent, he said, adding that no one was killed by influenza last year.

Narong said most Thais did not have a strong immunity against the H1N1 virus so it was expected that many people would be hit by the virus.

He said the ministry had formed a panel of experts to monitor the situation to provide advice to doctors nationwide around the clock.

Narong added that the ministry would soon provide vaccinations against H1N1 to the most at risk groups.


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