Surveillance upped at Kenya airports

June 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 29 – Health officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) were on high alert on Monday after Kenya confirmed its first case of Swine Flu.

Passengers from affected countries and those transiting through countries where the fever had been detected were filling surveillance forms for Influenza A(H1N1) at a desk established just next to the Immigration counter.

“The forms are being filled by all persons with symptoms, or those who have traveled internationally to a country where swine flu has been confirmed,” the airport’s Public Health officer Philip Ndania told Capital News.

“We are on high alert following what has been discovered today (Monday). We are not taking any chances because we have mobilised all the available resources and doubled the manpower here at the airport,” he said.

“We have forms passengers arriving are filling and this will help us get to know the history of the people coming here,” he added.

The forms require passengers to state if they have fever, cough, sore throat, difficultly in breathing and chest pains.

The passengers are also supposed to state if they were experiencing shortness of breath.

“Any one who answers yes to any of these questions is put aside and taken to a surveillance room where we examine them further. So far we have not detected any case apart from what was announced earlier in the day,” he said.

Asked how they failed to detect the Briton who has been found with Swine Flu in Kisumu, he said: “You see, you can not tell someone has the flu when you look at them. We entirely rely on the information we are given by the passengers.”

Health officials manning the screening desks near the Immigration counters wore masks and were even providing some of the passengers who said they had traveled from affected countries with masks.

“This is a serious disease, we can not take chances at all and that is why we are providing them with the masks,” one of the health officer who requested anonymity said.

Even as the airport officers remained vigilant, the Health Ministry said it was quarantining thirty-four British students including one who had tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus in Kisumu.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said a team of doctors was closely monitoring a 20 year-old medical student who developed a headache and joint pains, becoming the first case of H1N1 influenza virus in Kenya.

Samples were tested at CDC Kemri and the National Influenza Centre, she said.

“We have embarked on tracing any contacts that the students have made while in Kenya. If any of the contacts will exhibit flu-like symptoms, they will be tested and if found positive they will be appropriately managed,” the Minister said.


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