Ukraine flu outbreak worries EU neighbors

Nov. 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- An explosive outbreak of influenza in Ukraine is worrying EU member nations that border it, observers say.

Kiev has issued a call for international help in obtaining anti-viral drugs, saying 71 people have died in the past week and another 240 people hospitalized in serious condition among more than 250,000 reported cases of flu-like infection, the EUobserver reported Wednesday.

The publication said blood tests have not confirmed the presence of the H1N1 variety known as "swine flu," but the rapid pace of the infections have prompted a high level of concern among Ukraine's neighbors.

"The priority is to obtain the Tamiflu anti-viral drug, as well as antibiotics, respirators, protective masks and test kits for identifying the A/H1N1 virus," the Ukrainian government said in a statement Wednesday.

EU countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania that share land borders with Ukraine are worried, and are offering help. The EUobserver reported that Polish newspapers are saying Slovakia has already sent 200,000 protective masks to Ukraine.

Warsaw is also reportedly concerned about the flu situation in Belarus because of that country's closed, authoritarian government. The publication said critics contend Belarus is concealing a large flu outbreak.

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