Sri Lankan media has been reporting a new outbreak of H1N1 virus (aka. Swine Flu) on the island. So what does this mean for people travelling to and from the country? As yet, there have been no moves from other countries to prevent travel from Sri Lanka, however, this could change depending on the severity of the outbreak. People arriving from the Maldives are being screened, as it is believed that this outbreak originated around Male.
There has been some confusion about whether H1N1 has been circulating or not, as the government has thus far refused to comment for fear of affecting tourism. Although they haven’t made an official statement, the government has implemented safety procedures at the International Airport (implying they are actually worried, albeit the silence). People arriving from the Maldives are being screened, as it is believed that this outbreak originated in/around Male.
Lanka Hospitals (a large healthcare group) has denied cases, although last week a group of nurses in the Northern district broke strike to attend to 400+ patients diagnosed with H1N1. Though there are no exact numbers coming from other districts, it has been confirmed that there have been at least 2 fatalities in Kandy this year. While this doesn’t seem like a large enough number to be worried about, remember that many cases go unreported. A little research has shown that symptoms don’t typically show until 5 to 7 days after the initial infection, and symptoms are similar to your standard influenza. H1N1 can be fatal if pneumonia develops during the infected period.
In a country that is so densely populated viral diseases spread quickly, people have been advised to avoid large crowds and wash hands regularly. If you do have flu-like symptoms, doctors have asked that patients report to a hospital. It may just be the flu, but better safe than sorry.