Bangladesh on Monday confirmed the first swine flu death in the country after a 37-year-old woman died at a hospital here, even as the number of H1N1 cases shot up to 213.
“The first death has been reported from a private city facility last night,” Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhul Haque told PTI confirming a report that 35-year-old women died of swine flu at the Lab Aid Hospital where she was being treated.
Mr. Haque said an intensified media campaign for public awareness would be launched on Monday as the rapid spread of the disease particularly in urban slum areas could make it difficult to keep a medical surveillance on the patients.
The minister said Bangladesh was so far lucky in terms of low prevalence rate of the disease compared to its neighbours including India but it now nearly reached a position when the alert level could be heightened to “three” from existing “two“.
“We will unlikely to be in dearth of drugs to treat swine flu patients since Bangladesh itself exports these drugs abroad. What is required is a massive awareness so the patients could be identified at early stage so they could be cured using the drugs,” Mr. Haque said.
“Our main message is — keep away from swine flu patients, wash your hands with ordinary soaps as many times it is required,” the minister said.
The state-run Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) earlier said Bangladesh was not free from the danger of swine flu epidemic as the WHO predicted “explosion” of A(H1N1) cases globally.
The institute said the disease was now spreading from patients who had become infected within the country since the first swine flu case was detected in the body of an expatriate Bangladeshi on his return from the U.S. two months ago.
The health department called upon everybody to avoid sneezing, coughing or spitting just ‘anywhere’ and to cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing and then wash their hands properly.
“Prevention should be given priority in Bangladesh even after any outbreaks,” IEDCR director Professor Mahmudur Rahman said.