MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. At least seven people have died of flu complications in Moscow since December, Alexey Khripun, a deputy head of the Moscow health department, said on Wednesday.
"As for today, seven lethal cases caused by flu complications were reported for December and January," Khripun said, adding that the figure is lower than in 2009, when the swine flu, officially known as influenza virus A/H1N1, first appeared in Moscow.
Moscow and St. Petersburg have closed more than 300 schools to contain the influenza epidemic, Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said on Wednesday.
Schools were taking individual decisions on whether to declare quarantine taking into account the local epidemic environment, he said.
"The most important thing is to take care of children’s health," the minister noted, adding that officials recommended school closures if infections reached high levels.
Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. The most serious complication of the flu is pneumonia, leading to fatal cases.
According to Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, the flu epidemic in Russia is currently under control and more than 30% of the country’s population — 45 million people — have been vaccinated.
Some 45 million Russians have got the flu vaccine, Skvortsova reported at President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with the cabinet.
"Flu came [to Russia] from eastern European countries, including Ukraine," the minister said, adding that 47 out of 85 Russian regions had been affected by the epidemic.
"The severity of the epidemic is not higher than last year," the minister said. "The situation is under control, monitoring and medical assistance systems are operating," she said, adding that pharmacies were successfully handling increased demand for anti-flu medication.
At least three treatments were always held by pharmacies, Skvortsova told the meeting.
According to health ministry data, swine flu is most widespread in Russia, officially known as influenza virus A/H1N1. Several fatal cases have been registered in Russia over the course of the outbreak. This is the popular name for influenza caused by the relatively new strain of influenza, virus A, responsible for the flu pandemic in 2009.
Medical evidence proves it to be contagious, spreading the same way as seasonal flu. The most serious complication is pneumonia, leading to fatalities.