An outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu virus has killed more than 50 people in Ukraine this winter -- an increase of 10 percent over last year, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukrainian Health Minister Aleksandr Kvitashvili urged people not to panic, saying, “We haven’t exceeded the epidemic threshold, and every year January is the peak of the flu season.”
Nevertheless, the outbreak is serious as many people died unnecessarily by not seeking treatment in time to be saved, he said at a cabinet meeting on January 13.
People with high temperatures should immediately consult doctors and not attempt to self-medicate, as some treatments are not effective after 48 hours, he said.
The areas worst hit include Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, and Odesa, lawmaker Irina Sysoyenko wrote on her Facebook page. She said 28 people have died from flu in Odesa and 25 in Vinnytsya.
“As of today, 5.7 percent of the population is ill with the flu,” Sysoyenko wrote. “Of these, 70 percent are children and pregnant women."
According to the Health Ministry, only 0.3 percent of Ukraine's population received flu vaccines.