Four days after the confirmation of the Influenza A H1N1 in the country, laboratory cases have risen to 14.
This was announced by the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera in a press conference that was held yesterday evening in Kigali.
While addressing members of the media, the minister noted that the new cases are people who had directly been in contact with the first confirmed cases in a family.
“Of those confirmed, five are staff members of King Faisal Hospital; six are members of the initially infected family while three are pupils of Marie Auxiliatrice Private School here in Kigali. The confirmed cases are being treated aggressively and they are all doing well.
“None are hospitalized for now as they are being treated at home.The school has also been temporarily closed until we identify all the possible cases and trace individuals who might have been in contact with them,” Sezibera explained.
Despite the increased number of cases, the minister noted that it is a mild disease that should not cause alarm. He however urged Rwandans to adopt a greater sense of personal hygiene as regards prevention.
“We kindly request all people with flu like symptoms to stay at home until this episode passes. For those with severe symptoms, it is imperative to visit the nearest health care facility for thorough check up,” he added.
In relation to preparedness, Sezibera underscored that the response group continues to be active as regards monitoring the situation and improvement of the emergency preparedness is also underway.
Health experts at the conference also emphasized that it is vital to avoid unnecessary behavior that may lead to transmission of the virus such as shaking hands, kissing and hugging – which are common behaviors in the Rwandan culture.
“It is easier to acquire the virus once someone gets closer than one metre to an infected person.
Other ways also include coughing and sneezing as the droplets can easily reach another. It is easy for someone to touch their nose or mouth and transmit the virus through shaking hands.
“As regards prevention, behavioral change is necessary and washing hands promptly should be an emphasized practice,” the Director General of TRAC Plus, Prof. Michael Kramer said.
According to Sezibera, extraordinary measures have been planned already – should a severe outbreak occur. Apparently there are sufficient doses of the swine flu anti-viral that can treat over 14,000 people.
The public is also advised to limit visits to people with flu-like symptoms and to utilize the available toll free hotlines 3334 and 3335 for more information.