More than 30 patients were being treated for swine flu at both Mater Dei Hospital and St Vincent de Paul Residence, the Times of Malta have reported.
Overcrowding at the institutions has led to a rapid spread of the deadly virus, especially among elderly at the home. The swine flu can be spread through nothing more than a simple sneeze. There are at least 18 cases at St Vincent de Paul, and 15 cases at Mater Dei – and more cases are expected to crop up in the next week.
“We have simply run out of beds and we are leaving patients on stretchers now. To make matters worse, we are also running out of space, so all corridors are being taken up,” a source said.
It is being reported that the swine flu was first reported at the St Vincent de Paul Residence, before spreading to Mater Dei within days.
This outbreak comes as Mater Dei staff are struggling to come to terms with the sheer number of sick people at the peak of winter.
Efforts are being undertaken to contain the highly contagious strain of influenza
Patients ill with the swine flu have been cordoned off into seperate areas, with Mater Dei’s endoscopy unit being used as a makeshift quarantine zone. However, this has become a near impossible task as the hospital finds itself lacking in empty beds since there are so many inpatients being treated for seasonal influenza.
A spokeswoman from the Health Ministry confirmed the cases, also saying there were no cases of bird flu, another type of influenza, as of yet: “From the hundreds of samples analysed for the influenza virus, there were no cases of H5, that is bird flu. There are no cases of H5, that is bird flu. There are no cases of patients at Mater Dei Hospital who resulted positive to H5. Influenza cases for this season were influenza type A subtypes H1N1 and H3.”
What is swine flu?
“Swine flu” was the popular name for flu caused by a relatively new type of flu virus responsible for a global flu outbreak (or pandemic) in 2009 to 2010. It’s a normal type of seasonal flu and is included in the annual flu vaccine.
The scientific name for the swine flu virus is A/H1N1pdm09 – sometimes shortened to “H1N1”.
The virus was first identified in Mexico in April 2009. It became known as swine flu because it’s similar to flu viruses that affect pigs. It spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new type of flu virus that few young people were immune to.
Overall, the outbreak wasn’t as serious as originally predicted, largely because many older people were already immune to it. Most cases in the UK were relatively mild – although serious cases still occurred.
The relatively small number of cases resulting in serious illness and death were mostly in younger adults and children – particularly those with underlying health problems – and pregnant women.
On August 10 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the pandemic officially over.