, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – Four suspected cases of swine flu, which had been reported in Kenya have turned out to be negative, according to Public Health Minister Beth Mugo.
The Minister, who on Monday toured the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), said her Ministry remained on high alert over the virus which originated in Mexico and has spread to several countries.
“Kenya has enhanced the surveillance for influenza at the 26 sites around the country in the last one week. Four cases have been investigated and none tested positive for influenza A (H1N1),” Mrs Mugo said.
Twenty-one countries around the world have tested positive cases of swine flu. By early Monday, the number of cases worldwide stood at 985, with 26 deaths. Twenty-five deaths were reported in Mexico – the epicentre of the outbreak with 590 cases.
The United States has reported 226 cases in 30 states, including one death – a Mexican toddler who was visiting relatives in the US.
She said that the government had sensitised and trained health workers at all the international airports on screening and testing of travellers from countries where outbreaks had been confirmed.
“Sensitisation of health workers in public and private health institutions on the disease identification and collection of appropriate samples for testing from suspected cases has been stepped up,” the Minister said.
She also revealed that health institutions and points of entry within high risk areas had been supplied with protective equipment and sampling kits.
Mrs Mugo said all people travelling from affected areas were being checked, while advising Kenyans to maintain high standards of hygiene as a measure to prevent the disease.
She urged Kenyans to cover their noses and mouths while coughing and sneezing and make sure to wash their hands after. She also said pork and pork products should be well cooked.
“It is the personal responsibility of every Kenyans to prevent infection with Influenza A (H1N1). There is currently no vaccine available to protect against the flu,” she said.
To further ensure that Kenya is in control of the disease, she said her Ministry had formed a Central Response Committee that was holding daily to assess the situation globally.
She said should the numbers of people coming from the affected countries increase, the Ministry will despatch a team to assist the airport personnel.
One of the nurses at the airport told Capital News: “The good thing is that people are very cooperative and willing to be screened, we are working in shifts and so far we are able to screen all those from Europe, America and any other affected countries.”
Mrs Mugo said that there was no cause for alarm, though she urged people to be keen to notice of any flu-like symptoms and seek medial attention.
So far only South Africa has had a confirmed case of swine flu in the African continent.