Influenza found in 10 out of every 100 patient doctor visits, public health chief says

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci says influenza was found in 10% of patient consultations with health care professionals, which is lower than last year's incidence

In October, Health Minister Chris Fearne had said the exercise would cost €4 million to provide free of charge vaccines at health centres and local councils across Malta
In October, Health Minister Chris Fearne had said the exercise would cost €4 million to provide free of charge vaccines at health centres and local councils across Malta

Out of every 100 patient consultations, 10 have led to the diagnosis of influenza, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said.

Gauci told MaltaToday that this figure was lower than that of the previous year, which saw 16 out of every 100 consultations leading to the diagnosis of influenza.

However, Gauci warned that figures could potentially increase as the peak influenza season tended to be the end of January.

“As expected we have also seen increased admissions of persons presenting with influenza symptoms at Mater Dei Hospital,” she said.

Gauci said that out of the 100,000 doses of influenza vaccine procured by the State, 90,000 have been administered.

In October, Health Minister Chris Fearne had said the exercise to distribute free influenza vaccines at health centres and local councils across Malta would cost €4 million.

And it's not too late to take the vaccine despite being deep in the influenza season. “Persons over 55, children under the age of five and those suffering from chronic illnesses are highly encouraged to take the influenza vaccine if they haven't already,” Gauci said.

Persons can get the influenza vaccine from health centres which are open from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.  

READ MOREFree influenza vaccine available from today

Malta at ‘low risk of being affected by new Chinese virus'

Gauci said that Malta and other countries in Europe were at low risk of being affected by the coronavirus which has infected over 200 people in Asia so far.

The coronavirus originated from Wuhan in China and is being dubbed the “cousin” of the SARS virus. At this stage, scientists said that it likely started in an animal and spread to humans, however, cases of human to human transmission have now been confirmed.

Cases have also been found in neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Japan and South Korea.  

Gauci has advised those travelling within China to avoid markets, and contact with animals as well as any persons who may be displaying respiratory symptoms. “If persons begin to feel ill upon returning to Malta, it is important not to visit health centres or the hospital; if symptoms are being experienced they should call their doctor or our helpline 21224071 where they will be assisted.”

Gauci said that for the time being the World Health Organisations (WHO) has not issued any travel restrictions for China or its neighbouring countries. “Tomorrow experts from the WHO will be meeting to discuss the situation, we will wait to hear the findings before making any further decisions.”

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