Swine Flu in Poland

The A/H1N1 flu virus has spread from Ukraine to Poland in recent days. Ukraine declared an epidemic of the virus last week. Yesterday, the Ukrainian vice minister of health said that there have so far been 22 officially confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 virus, while 67 people have died of flu-like symptoms, and about 255,000 are sick with the flu or with flu symptoms.

The epidemic has led Slovakia to close its border with Ukraine, while an epidemic has also been declared in a part of Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, Gazeta Wyborcza reports that on Monday there were four confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 virus in Poland, two in Łódź and two in Poznań. Also, more people with symptoms are awaiting tests, including a border guard that was in the Ukrainian city of Lviv and an 11-year-old boy who returned from a trip to the Ukraine. All others that have symptoms reported to have had contact with Ukrainians. Hospitals in Przemyśl and Jarosławiec, cities near the Ukrainian border, have quarantined those with symptoms. While according to TVP, 15 students from Warsaw University’s Ukrainian Studies department have returned from Lviv with flu symptoms.

Polish officials told reporters on Monday that the country is prepared for an eventual outbreak of the virus in Poland. However, Minister of Heath Ewa Kopacz said that the government is not buying vaccines against the A/H1N1 virus because testing on the vaccine has not been concluded. She said that out of the three companies that produce the vaccine, none have so far been able to say what its side effects will be. She also said that it is not known if pregnant women and children will be able to use the vaccine, and that the amount of doses to be administered is also not clear.

However, an expert told Gazeta Wyborcza that her remarks are surprising, since countries like France, Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic have already purchased the vaccines and are administering them.

In the wake of the epidemic in Ukraine, Poland is sending face masks, medication and equipment, and has offered to help with testing samples. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has appealed to the European Commission to address the situation in Ukraine.

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