The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is receiving increasing number of reports of Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) from the NRH and other health facilities in Honiara and Malaita.

Cases so far have been picked up at Kukum and Rove clinics including the National Referral Hospital (NRH). Most cases are from the NRH in Honiara and Kilufi in Malaita.

Around 194 cases were recorded as of last week from the Health surveillance sentinel sites in Honiara and Malaita. While reports from other provinces are being compiled for submission to the National Surveillance Department of Health, it is likely that it will spread to other provinces due to inter-island travels.

Molecular testing for the type of virus causing the increase of flu cases shows multiple respiratory organisms identified to be the cause. These include Rhinovirus/Enterovirus, Influenza A (H3), and Adenovirus that are the main causes of the common cold.

Testing of COVID-19 was also performed for all samples collected and tested and so far, none of them returned positive test. All age groups are affected by this however there is an increasing number of young children being admitted at the NRH Emergency Department.

As part of its response, the NRH has enhanced the capacity to respond to the ILI at its Emergency Department with positioning of a paediatrician and 2 registered nurses and 1 intern for full time at ED.

All children are triaged into respiratory section of ED where they are seen and managed together with the ED doctors. Oxygen concentrators and medications including bronchodilators – inhalers and nebulizer are also at the ED. Most children are stabilized and discharged however risks still remains.

The public is therefore urged to take the following precautionary or preventative measures similar to that of COVID-19.

1. Avoiding close contact with the person showing flu-like symptoms of running nose, fever, and coughing
2. Wear face masks in crowded places or when traveling on public transport and entering public spaces and buildings
3. Continuous practice of hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer
4. And good coughing etiquette (Cough in elbow).
5. School children with influenza like illness (flu) symptoms should not go to the school to avoid spreading it to other children.
6. All Honiara residents to present to Honiara City Council clinics first and only presenting at NRH once referred.

Most of the infections caused by these virus are self-limiting and do not require hospitalization. Children with respiratory diseases, heart problems etc are at increased risk of hospitalization. Adults with co-existing such as heart or respiratory diseases, diabetes and elderly etc are also at increased risk of getting serious infection.

There is no treatment for viral infections however supportive care is recommended to treat the symptoms. It includes drinking of plenty fluids, and eating fresh healthy foods.

If symptoms such as shortness of breath, continuous high fever, and vomiting, persist for longer period and worsen, please go to the nearest hospital or clinic.

Source: MHMS Media