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H1N1 flu outbreak kills two more in Burma

A man wears a mask to protect himself from H1N1 in Rangoon on 24 July 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Burmese health officials said on Tuesday that two more people had died after contracting H1N1 influenza in the largest city, Rangoon, a day after the government said more than a dozen people had contracted the virus known as swine flu.

A pregnant woman and a man died at Yangon General Hospital on Monday, and lab tests later showed that they were both infected with H1N1, said Thinzar Aung, deputy director of the infectious diseases department at the Ministry of Health and Sport.

“Initially these people sought treatment at Yangon General Hospital on July 24 with suspected pneumonia,” she said.

The health ministry on Monday confirmed the virus had infected three other people in Rangoon and 10 people in Matupi, a town in the remote northwestern state of Chin.

A six-year-old boy who died with severe respiratory problems in Matupi on 14 July was also suspected to have contracted H1N1, according to health officials.

The ministry called for the public not to panic, describing the cases of H1N1 as regular seasonal phenomenon.

No outbreak of H1N1 has been reported in Burma since the global swine flu pandemic in 2009, when the virus spread to most countries in the world and infected dozens of people in Burma.

An official told Reuters on Monday the government had no vaccines for swine flu.

Win Lwin, director of Rangoon’s divisional health department, confirmed the first two H1N1 deaths in the city on Monday, but said he did not have any information on additional cases.

“We still don’t get any new information on the spread of H1N1. We are continuously searching,” Win Lwin said.

“We release warnings in the newspaper every day telling people how to protect against infection.”

Burma’s livestock ministry has also reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in the south of the country, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Tuesday.

More than 1,800 chickens were culled after the virus was detected last month at a farm in Dawei, 370 kilometres (230 miles) southeast of Rangoon.