Kenya allays fears of Swine Flu epidemic

July 3, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – The government on Friday allayed fears that Swine Fu was likely to spread in the country after the Kenya Medical Research Institute confirmed nine new cases of the virus among 33 visiting British Students.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said all British medical students were still in quarantine and had been receiving medication to suppress the virus.

“The 33 British students and their team leader currently confined at the Duke of Breeze hotel in Kisumu have all been given treatment for Swine Flu having been exposed to the virus by virtue of interaction with the first (34th) case,” she said.

She said their treatment was due to end on Friday after which they cannot transmit the deadly A (H1N1) virus.

Mrs Mugo assured that the staff at the Duke of Breeze Hotel in Kisumu where the students have been under quarantine, as well as pupils at various schools visited by the Britons, had all tested negative for the flu.

The driver of the bus in which the students travelled from Nairobi to Kisumu was also said to be free of the virus.

Mrs Mugo said the British students were expected to return to the UK on Sunday.

“Their treatment regimen ends today after which they cannot transmit the AH1N1 virus.  However the students will be leaving the country on Sunday 5th July 2009.”

A 20-year old British student from Nottingham University Medical School was on the field trip when realised that he had flu-like symptoms last Saturday and immediately sought medical assistance.   He turned out to be the first confirmed case of Swine Flu in Kenya.

The students arrived in Kenya on June 21. 

The British High Commission in Kenya on Friday clarified the students were not in Kenya to conduct health camps.

The commission’s spokeswoman Charley Williams said the Britons were in Nyanza to tour projects that they have been raising funds for while back in the UK.

Meanwhile, East African Community Partner States have been urged to step up public health education on Swine Flu to avoid panic, after two cases were detected in Kenya and Uganda.

A statement from the EAC Secretariat said the Kenyan and Ugandan authorities had instituted appropriate measures to minimise and eliminate the spread of the disease.

“The EAC Secretariat has urged all EAC Partner States to fully activate their surveillance networks in line with EAC Diseases Control Strategy of Early Detection-Early Response. The EAC Secretariat is ensuring coordinated efforts in the control of AH1N1 within the region.”

In the Ugandan case, authorities confirmed that a 40-year-old man who arrived in the country on June 26 from London via Nairobi to Entebbe without any symptoms was later confirmed to have Influenza A (H1N1) on July 1.  Ugandan authorities further confirmed that the man was under isolation in Entebbe and in good condition.

As of July 1 – according to World Health Organization – the Flu epidemic which started in Mexico two-months ago had already infected 77,201 people and killed 332. WHO has since declared it a pandemic at level six.

At level six, there is human-to-human spread, characterised by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in different WHO regions. Designation of this phase indicates that a global pandemic is underway.

The symptoms of A (H1N1) include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, aching body, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and or diarrhoea. The symptoms are very much like those of the common cold.

According to the EAC Senior Livestock and Fisheries Officer Timothy Wesonga, the disease can be avoided through good personal hygiene.

“It is recommended that hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water after touching contaminated surfaces. While sneezing or coughing, a handkerchief or tissue should be used. Crowded places should be avoided. People who show influenza-like symptoms should seek medical assistance” advised Mr Wesonga.


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