By Lawrence Audu
At least 5 persons have been killed following the outbreak of a deadly H1N1 virus in Morocco, the Ministry of Health announced Thursday.
The flu’s first victim was a pregnant woman who died earlier this week in Casablanca.
Until Thursday evening, only two deaths were reported. In the weekly government press conference Thursday afternoon, journalists expressed concerns over the outbreak of the H1N1 flu.
Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi told the press that only two deaths were reported: A pregnant woman, 34, and a 68-year-old woman who had other chronic diseases. Thursday night, however, the Ministry of Health announced that five people had died of H1N1 in public and private health facilities.
Minister of Health Anas Doukkali said that the H1N1 flu is the “dominant subtype this year, like all countries in the world.”
He added that the ministry is still “maintaining an epidemiological watch.”
Doukkali also reassured the public that the situation is not exceptional and called on Moroccans not to panic.
The director of Pasteur Institute in Morocco, Abderrahman Maaroufi, also reassured Moroccan citizens that cases of the flu in Morocco is common and normal, and the situation is not concerning at all.
Ali Lotfi, the chairman of the Moroccan Network for the Defense of Health Rights, argued that it is not really normal to have five deaths.
Lotfi wrote on his Facebook, “We have five deaths already … is it perfectly normal?!”
“Tomorrow, the same director will tell us that scorpion bites do not require serum against venom in the summer,” he said.
Lotfi explained that the disease is “highly contagious and easily spread.” Lotfi added that the Ministry of Health should have mobilized counter influenza medicines. He said that 98 percent of the cases could be cured if the medicines were offered in the first 48 hours after diagnosis.
“This is what did not happen,” Lotfi said about the deaths in Casablanca and Fez.
After the death of the 34-year-old pregnant woman in Casablanca, her husband criticized the “negligence” and belated intervention of doctors to treat his wife. He also condemned the ministry’s initiative to “reassure” people while his son was fighting for life, saying: “I lost my wife because of other people’s mistakes and now I am losing my son.”
The baby, whom doctors delivered via emergency caesarean section, also died, but it is unclear whether he died because of H1N1.