Cases of influenza are continuing to ramp up across the country and hospitals are overflowing with patients, doctors say.
The Health Ministry said that four people have died as a result of the virus and urged the public to take precautionary measures.
It said that from December 1 to January 31, there have been 25 clinically confirmed serious cases of flu of patients aged between 20 months and 91 years. The median age was 59.
Ten of the 25 patients were treated in intensive care. Of the 25 patients, 18 had preexisting conditions such as diabetes, asthma and chronic respiratory or blood ailments.
The ministry said four of the 25 patients had died. Three patients had chronic health issues which were aggravated by influenza A. In the fourth case, the influenza A aggravated the patient’s already serious clinical condition, the ministry added.
Earlier on Friday, Phileleftheros reported the Health Ministry was also investigating whether the virus is responsible the death of 20 month old baby earlier this week.
The ministry said that there was a spike in flu cases in the third week of December adding that the number of cases from the second week of January to today flu cases was quite high.
Doctors say that public and private hospitals in Cyprus are overflowing with patients due to an increase in viral infections.
Paediatric Units in all hospitals are overfull, Phileleftheros writes. The problem is more evident at Limassol General Hospital, where staff had to install 15 beds in the hospital’s children’s play area and school doctors were called in to help staff deal with the increased number of patients.
The Health Ministry says that despite the increased number of influenza A cases, the situation is not an epidemic as the months of winter are traditionally considered as “flu season.” However, doctors and nurses say that measures should be taken to decongest hospitals.
“We have to admit that hospitals are facing a crisis, mainly caused by the flu. We have to take measures,” Spokesman for the Union of Cypriot Nurses Theodoros Petelis said.
“We are currently at the climax of the flu season. Increased numbers of influenza A cases can be observed all over Europe,” head of the Infectious Diseases Unit of the Health Ministry Maria Koliou said.
Preventing the flu
The Health Ministry urges the public to take the following measures to prevent the flu:
- Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. Also, arrange for the good ventilation of houses and work spaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Wash your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
The Health Ministry says that “vaccination remains the best prevention measure against the flu, especially for vulnerable groups. Children with chronic respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney diseases and immunosuppressed children, should be vaccinated even now, either with their paediatrician, or, in the case they are beneficiaries, in the Maternity and Child Care Centres following a prescription by a paediatrician.”