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South Africa issues travel advisory, suspected swine flu case detected


Pretoria : One suspected case of swine flu has been detected in South Africa and the health department is closely monitoring the case, officials said.

Media reports said earlier that two suspected cases of swine flu have been detected in the country. However, officials later confirmed that there was just one suspected case of swine flu.

“The patient in Gauteng has been cleared of the symptoms (swine flu). The only suspect is the person in Southern Cape. But it has not been confirmed she has contracted the flu,” health official Fidel Hadebe told BuaNews Thursday.

Hadebe said both the individuals had recently visited Mexico and had developed flu-like symptoms after returning to the country.

The Southern Cape patient was being closely monitored, he added.

The swine flu or the influenza A(H1N1) virus is a respiratory disease, and has been reported in a number of countries, sparking fears of a worldwide pandemic.

Health Minister Barbara Hogan has urged South Africans not to panic. She said the country has sufficient drugs to deal with the situation in case of a swine flu outbreak in the country.

“We have national and provincial response teams which are already in place,” she said.

The staff of the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and cabin crews have been given guidelines from the national response team on how to identify a likely case of swine flu.

She advised South Africans to limit their travel aboard unless it is extremely important.

Meanwhile, the Southern African countries have prepared a response plan to deal with a possible swine flu outbreak.

The minister said the health ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have discussed the swine flu threat as well as supply of anti-viral drugs at a meeting recently.

“We have set up a technical task team and are trying to stockpile additional drugs in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the whole region,” she said.

The WHO Thursday raised the swine flu alert from level four to level five, meaning the world is facing an imminent risk of a pandemic.

Nine countries, including the US, have reported swine flu cases.

Swine flu symptoms include fever, body aches, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.