The Armenian Ministry of Health said on Tuesday that an epidemic of acute respiratory infections in the country has passed its peak, while reporting another death apparently caused by the H1N1 virus.
The latest victim of the virus commonly known as swine flu is a woman said to be in her 30s. Her death raised to 7 the death toll from a swine flu outbreak that struck Armenia last month. Health authorities have reported more than 100 cases of the potentially deadly disease.
Hundreds of other people, most of them children, have been hospitalized and diagnosed with seasonal flu, pneumonia and other respiratory infections this month.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health insisted that the epidemic is “starting to retreat” thanks to ongoing “large-scale medical efforts.” “As of the morning of January 12, the number of patients suffering from pneumonia, among them pregnant women, was down,” it said. “The number of people treated in intensive care units also decreased.”
The ministry said at the same time that “the incidence of respiratory infections among children remains the same for the moment.”
Officials at various hospitals in Yerevan spoke of a continuing influx of infected people. Gagik Manukian, the deputy director of the Surp Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, said ambulances have brought about 70 people to the hospital in the last few days.
“Yesterday about a dozen children tested positive for H1N1,” said Alla Harutiunian, deputy head of the Surp Astvatsamayr hospital. “You can say that we now primarily deal with the H1N1 strain.”
Harutiunian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the hospital has sufficient medication to treat those patients.
Yerevan’s public ambulance service said, meanwhile, that it received about 900 calls from city residents on Tuesday. “Most of them complained of acute respiratory symptoms,” said the service director, Taguhi Stepanian. She stressed that few of them required hospitalization.