Panamá,25º

19 de Feb de 2020

Nacional

First H1N1 flu case confirmed

PANAMA. A Panamanian youngster coming from the United States was confirmed yesterday as the first case of swine flu in Panama, accordin...

PANAMA. A Panamanian youngster coming from the United States was confirmed yesterday as the first case of swine flu in Panama, according to Health Minister, Rosario Turner.

Turner said the young man, whose name and age were not announced, had been to the United States and arrived to the country without symptoms, developing them days later.

“The patient is currently isolated in his house, is receiving treatment and his conditions is stable, the Minister told a press conference. She added that he is currently out of danger.

Turner said that members of his family and health officials who have treated him are also being treated although they have not shown any symptoms of respiratory diseases.

Health officials have also questioned him about contacts with anyone outside his family in order to check on possible contagion.

Turner did not specify when and from what American city the youngster arrived. “It is a young man who had contact in North America,” she said, pointing out that by law every patient has a right to privacy.

The influenza A H1N1 case was confirmed by the Gorgas Institute, which recently received from the Atlanta Disease Control Center, the technology to identity the strain.

Turner said that until Friday 34 suspected cases had been investigated, 27 of which were negative while seven were still under investigation by the Gorgas Institute.

The patients remain isolated in the Santo Tomas Hospital.

President Martin Torrijos’ administration approved last week, a $5 million budget for Health authorities to manage the emergency.

Turner said that 5,000 antiflu doses have been distributed among health centers, and that shortly 25,000 more doses will be arriving to the country.

The Health Ministry will continue with its current strategy to prevent and contain a major outbreak.

“With this new scenario all of the strategies that we have been developing will be maintained, and we will also strengthen the epidemiological watch, at the airport, ports, and border controls, plus education initiatives,” said Turner.

The Minister said this single case does not merit the suspension of classes nor any sort of movement restrictions among the population, measures which will only be implemented if the need arises.

The Minister said that at this moment it is important to avoid alarming the population.

She asked Panamanians to stay tuned and comply with indications given daily by the Health Ministry through media.

Starting today through TV Channel 11 at 9:00 a.m., the Ministry will be broadcasting general guidelines for the population.

She also made a plea for anyone with severe symptoms of a respiratory disease to visit their doctor and avoid crowded places.

For the moment, she is not recommending the use of surgical masks in the country.

In Central America, swine flu cases have already been reported in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Currently, the US leads the way in confirmed cases with 1,639, followed by Mexico, where the outbreak was first detected, with 1,110 confirmed cases.