Health minister confirms viral flu outbreak in Honiara, Malaita
By CHARLES KADAMANA
Solomon Star, Honiara
THE Minister of Health and Medical Services Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana has announced that the Solomon Islands has recorded a Viral Respiratory Illness (VRI) outbreak in Malaita and Honiara.
He announced this during his special address in light of the increased wave of flu-like illness experienced in the country.
“I stand today to announce that now we have an outbreak of Viral Respiratory Illness in Honiara and Malaita,” said Minister Togamana.
He said during the week of 25th-30th July the National Health Surveillance Unit have picked up an increased number of Influenza or flu like illness in Honiara and Malaita province.
He said within this period the total flu like illness recorded in the province was 234.
On the period from 1st-7th August the number of cases increased from 234 to 803 which is an increase of 243 percent.
He said these number of cases derives from significant increases recorded at health centers tasked to monitor the health diseases.
According to records provided by the Minister, Atoifi hospital recorded an increase of 223 percent while Auki clinic recorded 363 percent.
In Honiara, the National Referral Hospital recorded an increase of 264 percent while Kukum clinic record 113 percent and Rove clinic 387 percent.
In terms of admission at our NRH emergency department in the past 24 hours, 72 percent of the total emergency admission are respiratory patients of which 68 were adults and 26 were children.
He said our doctors including pediatrician are working hard to provide treatment for five pediatric patients admitted with flu like symptoms.
He said initially most of the cases presenting to health facilities were babies and children.
He said at the moment we are also seeing the influx of adults presenting with flu like illnesses with symptoms of running nose, coughing, fever, nosier vomiting, headache and shortness of breath or short wind.
He said the laboratory technician at the NRH have conducted laboratory test from swab collected from patients and discovered multiple respiratory viruses with RiNo virus and influenzas H3 predominating as the main driver of the outbreak.
“These are viruses that cause common cold or flu like illnesses that we are experiencing today,” he said.
He said a Covid-19 test was also perform on the same sample and the good thing is it returns negative result.
He said these viruses are common cause of flu and cold and usually the symptoms are self-limiting.
He said those kids especially those with other illnesses such as respiratory diseases and heart disease and adults who have other diseases such as obesity, diabetes, respiratory or heart disease may have severe disease requiring hospitalization.
“On this note I stand today to announced that now we have outbreak of viral respiratory illness in Honiara and Malaita,” he said.
He said there is high chances and risk to spread through all other provinces due to the ongoing inter islands travel.
He advice all citizen of the country to stay alert by practicing public health measures similar to Covid-19.
The minister said the current health advisory is as follows:
- Wearing of mask in public places such as along the street at the market, inside stores and when traveling by public transport such as buses and taxes.
- Constantly practice, hand sanitizing with soap or sanitizer.
- Maintain social distance of at least a meter
- Avoid public or large gathering
- Avoid visitation to families or another household
- Maintain personal hygiene at all times.
He also advice those experiencing flu like symptoms to drink plenty of water, warm water and take Panadol. If the fever persists, they should consult our doctors at our nearest health clinic, rest well and eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
He said it is also important malaria is rule out by getting tested.
He said public is also advice not to take other antibiotics such as Amoxil other than prescribes by doctors.
He said as part of the respond his ministry has activated its national health emergency arrangement to manage and coordinate the respond to the current outbreak.
“In doing so we will be enhancing our surveillance of the outbreak to monitor the spread and accessing further prevention and control across the health facilities to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he said.
He said the hospital service will enter into emergency mode for time being to allow proper pre-position of the respond.
He said patients are expect to be screen at the front of the emergency department. An additional space will be created as extension for patient for assessment before admission to the Wards.
He said all referral will be managed at the makeshift referral clinic set up at each department.
He said the ministry is also looking at options to open up Honiara city clinics at night times to respond to the current situation.