Public health push needed to tackle periodic influenza outbreaks

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Seasonal influenza poses a significant public health challenge for Myanmar every year. Yangon Region is the worst-affected in the current season, accounting for 147 cases and 43 deaths out of 56 fatalities reported nationwide as of 16 July.
Yangon Region saw a high number of H1N1 cases in 2017, and fewer cases were reported in 2018. But, this year, there has been an uptick in influenza cases.
Currently, the World Health Organization and Myanmar health authorities, along with the National Laboratory, are monitoring the situation and providing special care at homes and hospitals where the infected patients are being treated, in an attempt to control the outbreak.
As of 16 July, 117 patients were discharged from the hospital, and most of the 44 in-patients are showing signs of recovery.
Meanwhile, the health authorities in townships are also on the alert to detect seasonal influenza patients early, provide them with the necessary help, report the cases to the higher authorities, and raise awareness about H1N1.
Though an increase in influenza cases is normal in winter, prevention is better than cure.
Much care must be devoted to personal hygiene to prevent the influenza virus from spreading. One must cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, wash hands frequently with plenty of soap and water, sleep and rest well, take nutritious food and indulge in regular physical activity, stay where there is good air to breathe, and avoid public places and crowded areas. If symptoms of the disease show up, one must undergo treatment at the nearest health department.
Large-scale vaccination covering high-risk groups such as health workers, people with lung, kidney, liver, and heart disease, diabetics, and the elderly could reduce the impact of viruses in townships, especially Hlinethaya, Thingangyun, and South Dagon, from where a large number of cases have been reported.
On experiencing symptoms of influenza, high fever, difficulty in breathing, fainting, or anxiety, one must visit the nearest health centre for diagnosis and treatment.
When the general public adheres to the precautions issued by the ministry of health and sports, effective prevention and treatment can be carried out, and there will be no cause for alarm concerning seasonal influenza. We urge public and private clinics to report symptoms of H1N1 to the nearest health centre.

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