The Ministry of Health issued a statement Sunday raising the swine flu (H1N1) death toll to 38, adding that there have been 318 cases since the beginning of December 2013.
The statement also reiterates that H1N1 is a seasonal flu, expected to spread throughout the winter. The ministry announced that they would hold press conferences and issue statements on a regular basis as to increase transparency and inform the public.
However, Dr Khaled Samir, treasurer of the Doctor’s Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt that the health ministry is “not serious” in their steps to prevent and treat the spread of the virus. He added that the ministry needs to take its prevention measures to a higher level to protect the public.
Dr Samir said that although it is impossible to tell the exact cause, four doctors have died of symptoms relating to H1N1, while nine others have fallen ill and two others are in critical condition as not all doctors have been vaccinated.
Some medics have threatened to go on strike unless they are vaccinated for the virus. Minister of Health Dr Maha Al-Rabat has ordered every hospital in the country to carry the vaccine.
The ministry statement also warns that pregnant women, elderly citizens over the age of 65, children under two years of age, and people with respiratory diseases or circulatory problems are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
State-run Al-Ahram reported Saturday that a state of emergency was announced in Gharbeya governorate in northern Egypt, as the Menshawy hospital in Tanta saw the governorate’s first confirmed death from the virus.
Since December, there have been 339,483 influenza-like cases. Only 318 of these cases have been declared H1N1.
An outbreak of swine flu in 2009 left scores dead and led the Egyptian government to slaughter 300,000 pigs, despite studies showing the disease is only spread from human to human.
Additional reporting by Yasmin Sameh and Aaron T. Rose