No swine flu virus registered in Azerbaijan: interview with WHO representative office

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 12 / Trend , S. Babayeva/

World Health Organization Azerbaijan Representative Office Head Kamran Karakhanov's spoke in an exclusive interview with Trend .

Trend : Can you please provide main information about new Influenza A/H1N1?

Kamran Karakhanov: Influenza A/H1N1 (referred to as "swine flu" early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. An unusual increase in the number of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases was detected in Mexico starting at the end of March 2009. The new virus was first detected in people in April 2009 in the United States.

The reason why this virus was originally referred to as "swine flu" is because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs and avian genes and human genes.

Outbreaks in humans are now occurring from human-to-human transmission. When infected people cough or sneeze, infected droplets get on their hands, drop onto surfaces, or are dispersed into the air. Another person can breathe in contaminated air, or touch infected hands or surfaces, and be exposed.

Early signs of influenza A(H1N1) are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Many infections reported travellers who tend to be younger people. More cases have been mild than severe. Milder cases of illness show seasonal flu symptoms - fever, cough, aches. In severe cases (i.e. Mexico and some US cases), there have been pneumonia and respiratory infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Males and females infected at about the same rate. Incubation period - 1-5 days. There are no specific measures - vaccine, antivirals for prevention and etc. - to prevent influenza A/H1N1.

Q: How situation in the world is evolving in regard with the Influenza A/H1N1?

A: Situation in the world is evolving very rapidly. As many as 24 countries have officially reported 2384 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. Mexico has reported 1112 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 42 deaths. The United States has reported 896 laboratory confirmed human cases, including two deaths.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (214), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (5), Germany (10), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (6), Italy (5), Netherlands (2), New Zealand (5), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (3), Spain (81), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (32).

On April 29 based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's Director-General raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5. She stated that all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities (Phase 5: The identified virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in two or more countries in one WHO region).

Q: What is the role of WHO and what WHO is doing at the global level in relation with Influenza A/H1N1?

A: WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of influenza A(H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic. While continuing to monitor the virus, WHO is taking an operational response to outbreaks in collaboration with other UN partners and NGOs.

WHO DG continues to discuss with pharmaceutical companies on how best to future needs of antivirals for developing countries. On diagnostic front, WHO Collaborating Centres and USCDC are dispatching diagnostic kits to all influenza collaborating labs to dispatch to national labs. 

WHO HQ's SHOC room (Strategic Health Operation Centre) in Geneva is the centre where WHO's data, information and various task teams are coordinated. Over 100 WHO staff in Geneva are committed to this, working on global tracking, monitoring, vaccine development, antivirals, virology, etc.

WHO has been issuing guidance on a wide range of areas, including travel restrictions, pandemic preparedness, antivirals, use of face masks and pork meat safety.

Q: What about situation in Azerbaijan?

A: According to the official information we are receiving regularly on a daily base from the Ministry of Health no suspected cases are registered in Azerbaijan.

It is worth to mention that country capacity in terms of coordination, rapid response, epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, diagnosis and treatment are at a quite high level at the moment. Experience gained by the country during the outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006 played a very significant and important role in pandemic preparedness. 

On April 28, 2009 the State Commission on Pandemic influenza had a meeting devoted to the situation with the A/H1N1 flu. The meeting was headed by Mr Yagub Eyyubov, Chirman of Commission, the First Deputy Prime-Minister. On the meeting the National Pandemic Preparedness Plan endorsed by the State Commission on August 8, 2008 has been activated. All relevant Ministries and Committees were charged to take necessary measures.  

The Ministry of Health identified reference hospitals for admission of cases. National Virology Laboratory started laboratory surveillance, republican Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology is taking care about epidemiological surveillance of all influenza like illnesses. The Ministry of Health is also coordinating the work with medical services of Azerbaijan Airline Company, Azerbaijan Railways Company and Caspian Shipping Company.

Q: What WHO is doing in Azerbaijan about swine flu?

A: WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan is leading Influenza A/H1N1 efforts on behalf of UN Azerbaijan. WHO office in Azerbaijan also leads coordination of UN support to Government efforts as well as speaking as the "One Voice" of the UN Azerbaijan on the influenza epidemic. We are also in close contacts with other international organizations (International Committee Red Cross, United States Agency for International Development and different embassies) to coordinate support to the country if necessary. 

We are working closely with the Ministry of Health on strengthening of laboratory and treatment capacity of the country. In addition to the national stock we will shortly provide a country with the specific test kits for laboratory and antivirals for treatment of cases.   

All WHO guidelines are under translation into Azerbaijani now and will be submitted to the Ministry of Health by the end of this week. 

If situation will require WHO is ready to provide all kinds of needed additional technical support to the country.

I would like also to mention that we have a very good experience of collaborating with the Government during avian influenza outbreak in 2006-2007. During these years with WHO assistance necessary tools for rapid surveillance and adequate response have been developed and approved (WHO recommended AI case definition, epidemiological surveillance card, contacts tracing form, treatment protocols and etc.), Avian Influenza guidelines and action plan has been developed and approved, engineering lay-out for isolation facility for air-borne diseases has been developed. By the way construction of this isolation facility, which is very modern, is almost completed. WHO took active part in development of the National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Plan. Last year our experts assisted to work out preparedness plan for MoH in case of such epidemics. We organized and facilitated in cooperation with other international organizations a series of trainings for national specialists on infection control, IHR (2005), epidemiology and etc.

WHO is also working with the Ministry of Health on implementation of new Infection Control Guidelines. The project is ongoing. This activity envisages assessing, intervening and evaluating country's preparedness for acute respiratory diseases in the tertiary health care level. The field evaluations will review and update the current Infection Control Policy taking into account the local conditions, also how the national standards would be in the near future. Infection Control for itself is a cross-cutting issue and different areas of the health sector will benefit of the results obtained from this guideline implementation. For the first time in the European region an interim World Health Organization Infection Control guideline will be field evaluated before its implementation. By now more than 300 specialists, including 60 people from 30 districts of Azerbaijan have been trained. National trainers on Infection Control have been prepared.

In order to raise awareness about the scope of the new International Health Regulations (IHR), including obligations of States Parties and WHO, provide a platform for IHR-related multisectoral/interdisciplinary communication and coordination in Azerbaijan, assist Azerbaijan in the IHR-related planning process and initiate the process of structuring an early warning and response system with the contribution of key national stakeholders round table with participation of related governmental agencies has been conducted.

All these work contributes now to the level of preparedness of the country to the current threats.   

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at: [email protected]

Iraq likely to unblock Iran's assets
Iraq likely to unblock Iran's assets
Iran continues to increase non-oil exports
Iran continues to increase non-oil exports
Kazakhstan’s ERG Service to establish foundry products export to Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan’s ERG Service to establish foundry products export to Uzbekistan
Loading Bars
UAE sends fifth medical aid plane to Kazakhstan in fight against COVID-19
Jens Stoltenberg: Georgia, Ukraine are valuable partners of NATO
Iran sees Russia as key defense partner
France's new daily COVID-19 cases above 25,000 again
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberated Minjivan settlement and 13 villages of Zangilan district
Armenia once again betrays Russia
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army liberates 3 villages of Fuzuli district, 5 villages of Jabrayil district
Armenian side forced to recognize Azerbaijani army’s superiority - Defense Ministry
Armenia's defensive system, military equipment and terrorists didn't help - Azerbaijan's MoD
Liberation of Zangilan to increase production and export of Azerbaijan's mineral resources
Morocco's import of Turkey's jewelry, precious stones drops
Turkey's export of jewelry, precious stones to Iran decreases - Trade Ministry
Armenia has no interest in peaceful settlement of Karabakh conflict - top official
France reduces imports of jewelry, precious stones from Turkey
Georgia's import of Turkey's jewelry, precious stones down for 9M2020
Car prices in Iran drop
Iraq likely to unblock Iran's assets
Iran continues to increase non-oil exports
Supplies of jewelry from Turkey to Iraqi market decline in 9M2020
Dissemination of inaccurate info by some websites not to affect Qatar-Azerbaijan relations - embassy
Kazakhstan’s ERG Service to establish foundry products export to Uzbekistan
Turkish jewelry supplies to Azerbaijani market plunge
No diplomatic way to resolve Karabakh conflict, admits Armenian PM
Georgia implementing new project to provide remote villages with internet
Actual revenues to Azerbaijan's budget from State Customs Service top forecast
SOCAR details plans for expanding gas distribution network in Georgia
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale October 24
Compound feed producing plant to be commissioned in Almaty
Most Azerbaijani monuments in occupied territories Armenianized or destroyed
Georgia reveals TOP 5 banks with highest interest on loans
Uzbekistan reveals growth rate of investments spent in fixed assets for 9M2020
China's import of jewelry, precious stones from Turkey slumps
EU leaders to hold COVID-19 video-conference October 29
Iran's Persian Gulf Star Oil Company boosts its exports
Turkey increases export of jewelry to US - Ministry of Trade
Transfers by Azerbaijan's State Oil Fund to state budget for 9M2020 revealed
Union of Importers of Oil Products of Georgia talks adoption of new standard for diesel fuel
Subsidies for agriculture dev't allocated in Kazakhstan's Almaty region
Price of mobile internet down in Georgia
Data on sales in foreign currency at Turkmenistan’s exchange in September
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Fitch Ratings notes Georgia’s ability to comfortably meet its funding needs
Volume of paid salaries decreases in Georgia
Germany's 9M2020 import of Turkish jewelry shrinks
President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Japan’s Nikkei newspaper (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Russia enhancing bilateral co-op on innovative dev't, digital economy
Uzbekistan resumes flights to UAE's Sharjah
Eni sets timeframe for wind farm construction in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan itself implementing UN Security Council resolutions
Azerbaijan reveals state budget revenues, expenditures for 9M2020
Students of Baku Higher Oil School donate their scholarship allowances to Armed Forces Assistance Fund
Amount of investments made to launch of enterprises in Iran increases
Uzbekistan suspends gold export
Khazar Consortium opens tender for purchase of fire-fighting equipment
Georgia's import of tubes, pipes, hollow profiles from Turkey up
Three more UAVs of Armenia destroyed
Ambassador of Mexico met with Executive Director of SOFAZ
Russian entrepreneurs, well-known arm dealers involved in arming Armenia - President Aliyev
Uzbekistan considers state budget for 2021 taking into account COVID-19
Exports of knitwear from Georgia to Turkey down
Armenia creating suicide squads consisting of prisoners sentenced to death
UAE increases exports to Kazakhstan amid COVID-19
Chevron expresses will for further co-op with Kazakhstan in energy sector
Azerbaijani agency joins int'l public-private partnership association
Azerbaijani, Russian FMs meet
Exports of furniture, wood from Turkey to Turkmenistan increased
Nasdaq profit surges 76% on non-trading business strength
Georgian air company Air Georgia implements new project with United Arab Emirates
Weighted average rental rates reduce on Georgian main high streets
Azerbaijan's victory in Karabakh conflict beneficial to all parties, Russian expert says
Azerbaijan to build power supply stations in deoccupied districts
Geostat reveals volume of ferroalloys exported by Georgia to Turkey
EAEU reveals export of Turkmen vehicles
Georgia sees increase in export of flours, meals, pellets to Turkey
Operating performance of financial institutions improves in Georgia
Georgia reduces import of medicaments from Turkey
Wood, furniture exports from Turkey to Ukraine decline
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 21
We drove Armenian army out of our lands so fast that they fling up their heels - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan confirms 176 more COVID-19 recoveries
Military equipment abandoned by Armenian army on battlefield (PHOTO / VIDEO)
President Ilham Aliyev on possibility of observers introduction
At the last moment Armenian refused to return Kalbajar and Lachin, says president of Azerbaijan
Iran restarts extraction from Sulabdar oil field
Azerbaijan reaffirms position on Lachin corridor which is part of fundamental principles - President Aliyev
President Aliyev says no country helping Azerbaijan in fight with Armenia
If Armenian side says it is ready to withdraw troops from occupied territories, issue of so-called observers can be considered - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan wants peace, also territories that rightfully belong to it - President Aliyev
Full responsibility for what is happening now lies squarely with Pashinyan, says Azerbaijani president
We are offered to make concession to Armenia, unilateral concession, while nothing being offered in return - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan ready to suspend military operations, resolve issue at negotiating table - President Aliyev
Armenia’s terrorist authorities must be punished – Azerbaijani MP (VIDEO)
Georgia, UK aim to strengthen business and commercial ties
Volume of market services in Uzbekistan’s transport sector remains predominant despite decrease
Azerbaijan to issue support for children who lost parents after Armenia's Ganja attack (PHOTO)
Turkey raised wood, furniture exports to Russia - Trade Ministry
Heads of Christian religious communities of Azerbaijan protest against draft resolution submitted to US Congress
TANAP named Project of the Year by US-based PMI
Eni Turkmenistan Limited opens tender related to data transmission services
Tajikistan's import of Turkish furniture down
All news