ACCRA, The health authorities in Ghana says an outbreak of the N1 Acute Respiratory Illness is the cause of four deaths within a week at a senior high school in Kumasi, the country’s second biggest city, about 250 kilometres of here.

The deaths took place between Nov 30 and Dec 6 at the Kumasi Academy Senior High School (KUMACA). Government officials say the outbreak began on Nov 30, 2017 and, as at Wednesday, Dec 6, a total of 44 cases, including four deaths, had been reported.

Of the 19 laboratory samples obtained, 12 tested positive for Influenza Type-A, while a report on further tests received Thursday evening confirmed Influenza Type-A N1 2009 pandemic strain.

The situation has now resulted in an attack rate of 14 per 1,000 population with a case fatality rate of 9.1 per cent, said Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang-Manu in Accra Thursday evening.

Addressing a joint media conference involving officials from the Ministries of Health and Education, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Ghana Education Service, the Minister added that similar deaths which occurred in April this year at the same school had turned out to be caused by Meningitis Type C.

He said that coupled with the onset of meningitis and some pathological findings observed, initial suspicion on the November outbreak focused on meningitis and Viral Haemorrhagic fevers, which turned out not to be the case.

The stakeholder ministries and agencies were recommending that students should remain on campus to enable the final conclusions on response actions, while the team worked to strengthen surveillance on the condition, the Minister said.

He added that as part of the response measures, the team, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), would take immediate steps to access vaccines and enhance school health at KUMACA and the entire nation.

The team would, among other things, complete all outstanding laboratory investigations and autopsy, as well as intensify public education, sensitise outbreak response at the next Parent-Teacher Association meeting and procure antiviral agents for case management.