Three people have died in Derna from a viral infection that the authorities suspect could be a form of the H1N1 virus. A post on the Health Ministry’s Facebook page states the deaths were the result of a respiratory track infection, causing shortness of breath, high fever and unconsciousness.
According to a statement from the Health Ministry, the cases did not respond to conventional treatment methods used internationally.
Confirming the three deaths today, Tuesday, while speaking at the press conference in Tripoli on the mass poisoning crisis, the Director Gernal of the National Centre for Disease Control, Dr Mohammed Abughalah, said three others in the town have fallen ill with similar symptoms. They are currently stable and receiving medication at an isolation unit to help prevent the virus from spreading.
However, he also said that three cases in Tripoli had been diagnosed as H1N1 influenza. The other cases were still being analysed.
There are suggestions that those in eastern Libya could be cases of novel coronavirus (NCoV), also known as Saudi SARS. The first case was discovered in September last year in a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia. Out of the 14 cases worldwide so far, there have been six cases there, four of them fatal.
In its statement today, the Health Ministry said that “upon communication with relevant authorities, it was confirmed that other similar cases were reported in some parts of Libya as well as in some Arab countries”.
It added that an isolation unit had been established and emergency team consisting of specialised doctors and nurses formed and equipped with all necessary medical supplies. Nearby hospitals had also been contacted to cooperate and exchange information.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not list Libya among the countries displaying the infection. However, it cautions “member states to continue surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns”.