BUCHAREST, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Romanian Health Minister Sorina Pintea reaffirmed on Sunday that the country is not "very far from declaring the flu epidemic", as the number of people died of influenza reached 20.
The last case is a 68-year-old man from southeastern county of Galati, local health authorities said earlier Sunday.
The people who died so far from the flu in the current flu season had "one thing in common, they were not vaccinated," said the minister, adding that "out of the 20 people died, 16 had pre-existing medical conditions."
According to Pintea, "if in a week the number of diagnose cases exceeds the number of estimated cases, then we can talk about an epidemic week. If we have three consecutive weeks of epidemics, then we can declare the epidemic."
"We already have an epidemic week and we have all the chances... to have a second epidemic week," the minister said, stressing that the measures she has communicated to the local health authorities and the education ministry are actually those to be taken in the case of a flu epidemic.
The minister recommended that people who have symptoms report to their family doctor. She also suggested that schools conduct epidemiological trials, while hospitals limit visits.
At present, the flu virus is circulating more in the capital city of Bucharest, the eastern Black Sea port of Constanta and the western region of country.
Medical experts said again vaccination is the only solution to get rid of the flu virus. However, the vaccination rate in Romania is only 8 percent, which places the country the third from the last among the European states after Estonia and Latvia. The highest vaccination rate is in Britain, with 71 percent.