Venezuela: H1N1 Cases on the Rise

Venezuelans are facing another vulnerable situation. This time it is the H1N1 virus, a flu pandemic that started in the middle of March 2011, according to the Ministry of Health on their official webpage [es]. Besides this information, there is another version that comes from the Red de Sociedades Científicas y Médicas de Venezuela [Medical and Scientific Societies Network of Venezuela] which informs [es] that the first cases of H1N1 developed in the beginning of February in the Guarico state.

H1N1 has spread rapidly to some other states in the country, increasing from 12 [es] to 342 [es] cases and 4 deaths in less than a month.

Marcos Díaz Orellana, the governor of the sate of Merida [es], suspended classes in the University of Los Andes as part of a preventive measure.

The instructions regarding vaccination, provided by Minister of Health Eugenia Sader, are clear [es] enough:

En cuanto a la vacunación, advirtió que sólo está indicada la vacuna en niños y niñas de seis meses, adultos y adultas mayores de 60 años, personas con el sistema inmunológico comprometido (VIH/SIDA, cáncer, diabetes, hipertensión o problemas respiratorios) y mujeres embarazadas, “de resto no hay indicación de vacuna a la población en general”.

Regarding vaccinations, she indicated they are just allowed for six-month old babies, adults older than sixty, people with a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, hypertension or respiratory problems) and pregnant women. “There is no order to vaccinate the rest of the population”.
H1N1 vaccine. Flickr Image by Daniel Paquet (CC BY 2.0)

H1N1 vaccine. Flickr Image by Daniel Paquet (CC BY 2.0)

She also recommended this to prevent [es] the flu:

“Debe quedarse en casa para evitar contagiar a otros, lavarse las manos frecuentemente con agua y jabón o gel antibacterial, mantener las habitaciones ventiladas y en caso de dudas, la población puede llamar al 0-800-VIGILAN (8444526).”

“You must stay at home in order to avoid transmitting the disease to other people; wash your hands frequently either with water and soap or with antibacterial gel, keep the rooms with air and, if you have any doubts, you can call 0-800- VIGILAN (8444526)”.

On the other hand, the Red de Sociedades Científicas y Médicas de Venezuela has asserted that:

“La falta de vacunación oportuna causó nuevo brote de AH1N1″

“The lack of appropriate vaccination has brought about a new H1N1 outbreak”

There are some reactions from citizens on Twitter. Gerald Capriles affirms (@Gecacapri):

Me da miedo la #Ah1n1

I’m scared of H1N1.

Carmen Ramia (@carmenramia) informs:

Casos de influenza AH1N1 se duplicaron en Caracas en 24 horas.

H1N1 influenza cases have duplicated in Caracas in 24 hours.

Miguel Mendoza (@miguemendoza) encourages his Twitter followers to vaccinate against the flu, and Manuel Morán (@manmoran) thinks that:

La vacunación contra AH1N1 debe ser masiva, todos los venezolanos tenemos el derecho a ser protegidos.

There has to be a massive vaccination against H1N1. We all have the right to be protected.

Dr. Rigoberto Marcano (@rigotordoc) gives the discussion a political tone by referring to the administration of President Hugo Chavez as “the regime.”

Claro, el regimen NO vacunó cuando debió haberlo hecho en 2010 RT @UNoticias: Un gentío anda en busca de vacunas contra la #AH1N1

Of course, the regime did not vaccinate in 2010 when they should have done it. RT @UNoticias: A lot of people are looking for the vaccination against the H1N1 influenza.

Gonzalo Rodriguez (@ponchalo2012) states ironically:

CASI NADA!!! Confirmados 415 casos de #AH1N1 a nivel nacional via @webnotitarde

There are not that many cases! 415 H1N1 national cases via @webnotitarde

GabO! (@gabocumarin) talks about President Chavez's declarations regarding H1N1:

el presidente @chavezcandanga dice que hay todos los insumos para la#Ah1n1 y no poseen equipo para realizar la prueba ! q #cagada

President @chavezcandanga asserts that there are resources for the H1N1, and they do not have the equipment required to do the medical examination! This sucks!

Some citizens have taken precautions, deciding to go to private drugstores to buy the vaccination to avoid getting the virus. Nevertheless, those drugstores are regulated by the Ministry Health in order to provide an accurate figure. Locatel, a well known Venezuelan drugstore chain, asked the Ministry for 1500 vaccinations and it was just given 29, adding those citizens that want to vaccinate against H1N1 to a waiting list. El Nacional [es] informed that “New flu triple vaccine for the H1N1 treatment will be arriving to Venezuela by the end of this week, the Minister of Health Eugenia Sader informed this Monday, on March 28.”

Beyond what the real cause of the outbreak and the recommendations from health authorities, Venezuelans have responsibly taken precautions on their own, even though examination expenses and vaccinations in private hospitals imply an extra cost in their family or personal budget.

On Sunday, March 27, President Chavez confirmed in his show “Aló Presidente” that: “we already have 382 [es] cases of H1N1 flu.”

On March 28 Venezuela woke up to 415 [es] “confirmed” cases.


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