TBILISI, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, has claimed 15 lives in the past weeks in Georgia, said a health official of the Caucasus country here on Friday.
"I confirm the report about the death of a 27-year-old man at Kutaisi Referral Hospital today. Unfortunately, we have 15 laboratory-confirmed cases of death during the current flu season," said Amiran Gamkrelidze, director of the country's National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, at a joint briefing.
He called on people to quickly seek treatment at hospitals if respiratory symptoms are found.
Meanwhile, the Georgian Health Ministry announced that, amid the increased flu cases in the country, the government would fully cover the cost of treatment for all flu patients.
Earlier Friday, Georgia's Prime Minister Administration had issued a statement that, upon the decision of Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, all citizens of Georgia will get antiviral medicine Tamiflu free of charge if they have a doctor's prescription.
Since the end of last year, the flu virus, mainly identified as the H1N1 type, has been spreading quickly across Georgia.
Up to now, more than 600 people are being treated in the country's hospitals for the virus, and 39 of them are receiving critical care, according to official data.
Given the current severe situation across the country, studies at Georgia's public schools and kindergartens have been postponed until Jan. 21.
However, the Georgian Health Ministry said there is no risk of epidemic in the country at present.