November 4, 2009 / 8:55 AM / 10 years ago

Flu cases quadruple among Afghans, more deaths

An Afghan girl looks on as she wears a protective mask while standing at a school in Herat November 3, 2009. The number of Afghans infected by the deadly H1N1 virus has more than quadrupled in two days, a health ministry official said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

KABUL (Reuters) - The number of Afghans infected by the deadly H1N1 virus has more than quadrupled in two days, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Seven more people have also been killed by the virus since the first death was recorded last week, public health ministry spokesman Farid Raaid said.

To curb the flu’s spread, the government declared a health emergency on Monday and ordered all schools closed for three weeks as part of measures against the virus.

Some 350 positive cases of H1N1 — 273 of which are among foreigners — were recorded by Sunday, but the figure doubled to almost 700 by late Tuesday, Raaid said.

The government has launched a massive public awareness programme about taking preventative measures in the war-ravaged country where illiteracy is high and health facilities are basic.

The government has enough vaccine on hand for 50,000 people, but hoped to receive 1 million doses from the World Health Organisation, Raaid said.

(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Bill Tarrant)

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