Two more people died from swine flu complications in Armenia on Wednesday, raising to 10 the total number of fatalities caused by an outbreak of the dangerous H1N1 virus.
Both male victims were hospitalized a week ago. One of them, the 60-year-old Volodya Kamalian, also suffered from pneumonia and diabetes. The other man, Rafik Vartanian, was aged 41.
The latest deaths followed assurances by health authorities that an unusually severe epidemic of H1N1, seasonal flu and pneumonia, which hit Armenia late last month, has passed its peak. The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday a decrease in the number of patients treated for acute respiratory infections at hospitals across the country.
Anahit Haytayan, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Armen Muradian, said on Wednesday: “We have achieved our objective in the sense that the population has heeded our appeals. Requests for medical aid have increased considerably, as a result of which the number of severe cases is falling.”
Haytayan suggested that doctors might have saved Kamalian’s and Vartanian’s lives had the men been hospitalized earlier.
“The influx [of infected people] was greater in previous days because people were scared,” Samvel Karapetian, a senior doctor at Yerevan’s Erebuni Medical Center, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “As soon as they had a minor cough or fever they would turn to us for aid.”
“Now we are mainly dealing with people suffering from pneumonia,” said Karapetian.
According to the Ministry of Health, 684 infected children and 78 pregnant women remained in hospitals as of Tuesday evening. A ministry statement said 81 patients were in intensive care. It insisted that “the situation is stabilizing.”