The Irrawaddy

Death Toll from Seasonal Flu Rises to 7 Children in Naga Zone

YANGON—Seasonal flu has claimed the lives of three more children in the Naga Self-Administered Zone in Sagaing’s Nanyun Township over the past week, taking the total death toll for the past two weeks to seven.

The three fatalities were a 1-month-old baby and a 1-year-old child from Hachun Sar village, and a 1-month-old baby from Shan Hae Paw Kun village in Nanyun, said Sing Maung Yawngva, the Sagaing regional lawmaker for Nanyun Township.

As in Lan Pan village—where four children died in the week before last—the entire population of Shan Hae Paw Kun village is now sick with the flu, he said.

The sick villagers’ symptoms include cough, fever, diarrhea, sore throat, and nosebleeds.

Officials in the Naga governance office, however, put the death toll for the two villages in Nanyun Township at five.

The regional lawmaker and the Naga governance office told The Irrawaddy that the villagers were getting medical support from township and volunteer medical staff, as well as from Myanmar military medical personnel, and that the situation was now under control in those villages.

“The sick children’s health has not completely recovered yet, but they are now receiving treatment and the threat to their lives has eased,” Sing Maung Yawngva said.

Considered treatable in many other cities and villages in the country, a case of the flu is a potentially life-threatening condition in the remote region, which lacks access to transport and communication and faces a seasonal health crisis almost every year.

However, officials in the Naga Self-Administered Zone Office said they had responded to the emergency by sending medical staff to the villages.

Lack of access to food had exacerbated the effects of severe weather in the region, said U Than Htwe, deputy director of the Naga Self-Administered Zone Office.

“As transport is difficult, we were not able to reach affected villages quickly. We respond as soon as we receive information about health problems,” he said.

Two years ago, scores of children died in a measles outbreak in the Naga Zone. The official death toll was 41, but reports put the toll as high as 80 children.