Italian health minister says there is "no flu emergency"

09:00, November 04, 2009      

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Despite the rise in the number of A/H1N1 flu virus victims in Italy the Junior Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio said on Tuesday there was "no flu emergency" in the country, thus no real reason for pandemic alarmism.

So far, the flu death toll has risen to 18, many of whom children. Fazio said at a local TV program that other European countries were worse hit by the virus than Italy and the government was constantly monitoring the situation.

"We have had 18 deaths in Italy from the virus so far, compared to 44 in France, 63 in Spain and 137 in the UK," Fazio said, though last week he had said Italy led the Europe Union for number of cases, with approximately 400,000 people infected.

The mortality rate in Italy was half the European Union average, despite reporting the highest rate of infection, Fazio added. Fazio also urged people not to panic and rush to hospitals.

He compared the A/H1N1 flu virus death toll to the 8,000 Italians who died last year of seasonal influenza as proof that "this is not a dangerous virus."

According to the junior health minister, Italy will distribute a total of six million doses of the vaccine by the end of this month, as hospitals begin immunizing pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses.

On Monday, the flu claimed its youngest Italian victim so far, an 11-year-old girl being treated at a hospital in Austria. Another boy of the same age died in Rome after ten days in hospital.

Source: Xinhua
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