Health Ministry urges calm as thousands of flu patients flock to hospitals in Turkey’s southeast
ISTANBULTurkey’s Health Ministry has urged for calm as over 11,000 people with influenza symptoms flocked to hospitals in southeastern Batman province over the last week and reports of swine flu created panic in nearby Van province.
Speaking to reporters from the state-run Anadolu Agency, Dr. Hürrem Bodur, a professor from the ministry’s immunization and influenza science board, called for caution but reiterated that there were no grounds for panic.
“Flu starts being effective in the northern hemisphere around these times of the year. It is the same in our country and will continue until March,” she said, underlining the number of flu cases reported was normal.
Bodur added the type of virus designated in the reported cases was not new and the progress of the disease was being monitored by the ministry.
“In 2009, we witnessed an epidemic of what is colloquially called the ‘swine flu.’ From then on, H1N1 has been detected each year,” Bodur stated, repeating that swine flu cases were no cause for alarm.
Nevertheless, the official underlined that persons who are under risk should have a flu shot as a precaution. Bodur outlined some of these risk groups as people over the age of 65 and younger than two years old, alongside those with asthma, overweight persons, people with liver and heart diseases and pregnant women.
Another professor from the Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Murat Akova, told reporters there was nothing to fear under the current circumstances, citing World Health Organization (WHO) data.
“According to the data, out of 100 samples taken from people with influenza-like symptoms, only 10-11 are actually infected with the flu,” Akova said, stressing this rate was normal.
The excessive number of people who flocked to hospitals with flu-like symptoms aroused panic in Batman last week, while an emergency physician claimed the number of patients has almost doubled.
“We used to treat around 900 patients each day. However, the number has reached 1,700 over the past week due to the flu epidemic,” Dr. Talat Kardaş from Batman State Hospital told daily Hürriyet.
Meanwhile, reports of an increased number of people being treated for swine flu in nearby Van province also created panic.
Provincial Director of Public Health Yakup İmren released a written statement in which he refuted claims of excessive cases.
“For now, the number of cases and lab results do not represent an anomaly compared to previous years,” the statement said, according to Anadolu Agency.