The H1N1 influenza A virus has killed 23 people and infected 331 others in 22 of the total 24 provinces of Ecuador so far this year, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Public Health announced on Friday.
According to the latest published epidemiological report, the virus mainly prevails in the provinces of the Mountain-Center and North region, with an increase of the cases reported in the Coastal region and occasional cases in Mountain-South and Amazonian regions.
Four of the 23 deaths occurred last week, the report said, adding that the health authorities have implemented sanitary measures to stop the virus from spreading throughout the whole country.
Drugstores are still banned from selling anti-flu, anti-inflammatory or pain reliever drugs without prescription, since the self-medication may hide the virus' symptoms and prevent clinical diagnosis, the report said.
The Ministry of Public Health will launch a vaccination campaign in October and November to immunize some 4 million people against the virus.
The virus killed six people and infected 45 others last year, according to official figures.
In May 2009, The H1N1 influenza A virus first appeared in Ecuador, killing at least 14 people and infecting 2,251 others that year.