Kateryna Choursina and Halia Pavliva
November 2, 2009
The World Health Organization sent a team of experts to Ukraine today to investigate an outbreak of respiratory disease that’s sickened a quarter of a million people and left pharmacies without masks or flu remedies.
A group of epidemiologists, physicians, laboratory technicians and communications advisers is scheduled to arrive tonight in Kiev, Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, said in a telephone interview today.
Ukraine faces an outbreak of flu-like illness that’s killed at least 67 people and infected 255,000, according to the country’s first deputy health minister Vasyl Lazoryshynets. About 22 patients tested positive for swine flu, Lazoryshynets said. It’s “difficult to tell” whether the pandemic H1N1 virus is responsible for all the cases, according to Hartl.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” he said. The crew of experts will collect samples from patients and send them to the WHO’s influenza collaborating center in London for diagnosis. The WHO may have more information on Nov. 4, Hartl said.
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