ARMENIA PREPARING FOR SPREAD OF SWINE FLU
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)-The rapidly spreading swine flu pandemic may finally
reach Armenia in the coming months and its medical authorities are
prepared to deal with the disease, a senior official said on Thursday.
Unlike at least two if its neighbors, Turkey and Georgia, Armenia has
yet to report a single case of the H1N1 virus among its residents. The
World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the potentially deadly
virus "unstoppable," saying its spread to more countries of the world
Thousands of Armenians are spending their summer vacations in Turkey
and Georgia. Many more of them travel to Russia, which is being
increasingly hit by swine flu, on a regular basis.
"Of course, the entry of swine flu into our country cannot be ruled
out," Liana Torosian, a senior official at the State Hygiene and
Anti-Epidemic Inspectorate, told RFE/RL "There is tourism, there is a
[cross-border] movement of the population."
Torosian said that the autumn and winter months, which traditionally
see an upsurge in seasonal flu cases, will further increase chances
of Armenia being affected by the pandemic. "But even in the event
of a virus detection, we have the necessary levers and resources to
ensure proper treatment," she said.
The official stressed that Armenia has already stocked up on the
Tamiflu anti-virus drug. "The Nork Infections Hospital [in Yerevan]
has been supplied with Tamiflu," she said. "Tamiflu has also
been delivered to the regional branches of the State Hygiene and
Anti-Epidemic Inspectorate. If necessary, regional hospitals will
quickly get that medicine."
The Armenian sanitary authorities reported wide-ranging precautions
against swine flu shortly after its first outbreak in Mexico last
April. Those included a ban on meat imports from some countries and
a screening of individuals arriving in the country.
Earlier this month, swine flu was detected at Yerevan’s Zvartnots
airport in a Georgian woman flying from London to Tbilisi via the
Armenian capital. According to Torosian, all passengers on board
the plane who disembarked in Yerevan were examined and monitored by
medics for the next seven days. None of them was found to have caught
the disease, she said.