Nepal battles ‘Twindemic’ as swine flu wreaks havoc amid rising Covid cases

Amid soaring Covid-19 infections in Nepal, numerous cases of H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu virus infection, have been reported from many places as health experts call for strict surveillance measures across the country.

At least 57 cases of H1N1 known as swine flu have been reported in the last two months and especially at a time health authorities throughout the country have been dealing with the fourth wave of Covid, the Kathmandu Post reported.

The chances of misdiagnosis and negligence could be high during this time, which could lead to delayed treatment and even deaths, the health experts said.

Several Public health experts have warned that the H1N1 virus along with Covid-19 could cause a “twindemic” in the Himalayan country.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Influenza Surveillance, at least 57 cases of H1N1 infection have been reported since June 6 and the infection of 55 cases of AH3 virus also known as Hong Kong flu have been also reported in the same period.

“Many people including some senior bureaucrats and leaders died of H1N1 virus infection in the past in our country,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, Chief of Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.

“What concerns me is influenza cases have not been reported so much after the start of the coronavirus pandemic and this time cases are surging along with Covid-19 cases,” he added.

The symptoms of the H1N1 virus and Omicron variant of coronavirus overlap with each other, which can lead to misdiagnosis and cause confusions.

However, in both the infections, the patients suffer from fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, vomiting and diarrhoea, and others.

“Both viruses cause respiratory disease and if not treated on time, both cause severity and deaths,” said another health expert, adding that an infectious disease and critical care expert.

On Tuesday, two people died and 1,090 people tested positive for Covid in 2,958 polymerase chain reaction tests and 530 in 3,342 antigen tests whereas the cause of infection in over 5,000 people is unknown.

Notably, the hospitals in Nepal in the past have reported that people have been infected with both Covid-19 and influenza at the same time.