Health authorities think that the worst phase of the seasonal flu will be between this week and the coming week, as hospitals are preparing for an increase in patients which may be admitted in hospital due to complications caused by the flu. Public Health superintendent, Prof. Charmaine Gauci, said that some 13% of Maltese have already been affected by flu and sought treatment by the family doctor. However, she said, those who were vaccinated against flu are well protected as it is the predicted Type A in the vaccine against flu.
Last year, 16% of the Maltese were affected by flu symptoms.
Prof. Gauci added that the worst of flu in Malta is expected between this week and next week, adding that hospitals are informed and prepared to receive patients with certain conditions which may have flu complications.
“Flu started rising slowly since October and what we are seeing this year is similar to that of other years. It is increasing and it is expected that between this week and next week we will reach its peak. Therefore that is a stage where people have to take prevention so that we will reduce the spread of the symptoms”, she added.
Prof. Gauci stated that the flu affecting the country is the Type A and over 85,000 persons were vaccinated against it. “We also do swabs to exactly know the type of flu, virus that is circulating. This is similar of what is happening in Europe where the main part of flu cases are of the type A, H1 and H3, which is a good thing because they are viruses which were incorporated in the vaccine which we are seeing and which is the necessary protection”.
She said that although it is advisable to take an early vaccination, there is still the chance of vaccination now because in Malta, the flu symptoms continue until April. The vaccine takes two weeks to be effective.
We asked Prof. Gauci in what way one may be aware of having flu and not a common cold. “Flu is very different; it affects a person strongly, comes instantly and a person is bedridden; does not let you continue with normal life, pain everywhere, with fever and coughing. Common cold is a different thing which starts slowly, generally with running nose symptoms, throat pain, slight coughing and without having fever. Generally a person continues with his daily life”.
She further stated that persons who have chronic disease should take care and if they have flu, should speak to the doctor to start early medicines. She insisted that antibiotics should not be taken in flu cases as these are not effective on the virus. Prof. Gauci said that at this time it is important that those who are sick do not go outside so that they will not spread disease and also emphasized the importance of regular hand washing and covering mouth with tissues while coughing and that these are immediately disposed of.
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