Prague, Jan 9 (CTK) – Nine people died of flu in the Czech Republic from the beginning of the season until January 6, the State Health Institute (SZU) said in a report on Monday, and the Health Ministry has banned the export of the Tamiflu anti-flu medicine in connection with the current epidemic.

A total of 35 serious flu cases were registered in the country in the given period, with patients mostly aged over 60. Nine patients have died.

In the first week of January, the number of people with an acute respiratory disease or flu rose to 1,528 per 100,000 inhabitants, a 49-percent increase compared to the last week of December.

During the Christmas holidays, however, people probably preferred recovering at home to visiting a doctor. That is why the sanitary authority also compared the early January number of patients to that in the pre-Christmas week, which showed a 12-percent increase.

“An increase has been registered in all age groups and all regions,” the SZU said, adding that the illness rate is the highest in Moravia.

The ministry has banned the export of Tamiflu, a medicine from the anti-viral group.

“The Czech Republic faces a nationwide flu epidemic. In this situation, it would be irresponsible to permit further exports of the anti-viral drug that serves to effectively treat both children and adults,” Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik said.

He said the present amount of Tamiflu is sufficient, but its export abroad could restrict its accessibility.

Many hospitals and elderly people’s homes across the country have banned visits.