rages in S.India
By Carol Aloysius
The outbreak of Novel HINI (commonly
known as swine flu) which is currently raging in
southern India, is still to make its reappearance in
Sri Lanka, although Health Ministry sources fear
that it won’t be long before the first case is
reported in this nation.
“So far we haven’t a single confirmed case of
Novel HINI. But we are making all the necessary
preparations for any future outbreak”, Dr Sugath
Peiris, Senior Epidemiologist told The Nation.
He said that 400,000 vaccines given by the WHO
earlier had been distributed to all the leading
“As a precautionary step, we have asked for
another one million vaccines from the WHO, to face
any HINI virus outbreak’’ , he said.
Novel HINI peaked in 2009 with over 640 cases being
reported and nearly 50 deaths recorded up to
February this year.
Asked if any special arrangements were being made
to send any infected patients to the Infectious
Diseases Hospital or set up separate wards for them,
Dr Peiris replied in the negative. “Earlier, when
the disease broke out here, as well as around the
globe, people panicked. But now we have realised
that it is not as dangerous a disease as we thought
it was. It is like a normal flu, with symptoms very
similar to flu, such as fever, cough and colds. Only
a lab test will confirm if the patient is actually
having the disease’’ , Dr Peiris said.
Meanwhile, as Health authorities continue to wrangle
over the BTI issue, with none of them being able to
tell The Nation whether the stocks of imported BTI
were actually in the country or not, the threat of
another outbreak of Dengue is imminent, with the
onset of the monsoons this month.
“Mosquito breeding sites may have come down in
the high risk areas like Colombo, thus reducing the
threat of Dengue. But we can’t afford to be
complacent and discontinue our cleaning up
operations. Householders must constantly maintain
the cleanliness of their immediate environment, and
all the authorities, from city planners, municipal
councils, schools, institutions to hospitals, must
continue to monitor and inspect their immediate
environment for any breeding site that may have been
overlooked. Even one single breeding site or one
small water collecting container can lead to an
outbreak of the disease,” warned Dr Peiris.
A total of 27,142 cases of Dengue have been reported
up to August 20, with 195 deaths. The disease which
peaked at 4072 cases in January, saw a decline in
March, April and May, and a sudden surge in June
(3,343 cases) and July (5,889 cases).