Influenza A (H1N1) also known as swine flu has been reported in Egypt, making this the first reported case on the African continent, a statement from the Ministry of Health revealed.
According to reports, four students and a faculty member at the American University in Cairo have contracted swine flu, bringing the total number of those infected at the school to seven.
The five cases were discovered when tests were carried out at a dormitory after two students from the United States of America were diagnosed with swine flu.
The Egyptian ministry of health was reported to have put the accommodation facility of the 234 people including 110 students from 10 different countries under quarantine for seven days.
World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Rwanda, Dr. Jack Abdonlie, however cautioned that this should not cause panic because most countries have improved their preparedness with Rwanda ranking among those with good rapid-response teams.
While addressing journalists in Kigali on Friday, Abdonlie also revealed that WHO raised the pandemic alert from 5 to 6 last Thursday based on the fact that clear defined human to human chains at which the virus spreads can no longer be traced thus further spread is considered inevitable.
“After a close monitoring of the global progression of this influenza (H1N1) infection since April, the criteria for raising the alert level to 6 were met on Thursday. There is widespread transmission from human to human in at least two Who regions thus making it a pandemic,” said Abdonlie.
Commenting on the declaration of the global flu pandemic, WHO Director General, Margaret Chan noted that after seeking guidance from leading influenza experts, virologists, public health officials and based on available evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic were been met.
In relation to this, Abdonlie added that: “Henceforth, the expectation is that there will be additional cases in more countries and unfortunately additional deaths will occur too but there is no case that has been reported in Rwanda yet. We are on the look out and if any case arises we will respond immediately.”
According to the Director General of Trac Plus, Prof. Michael Kramer, MOH is set with an equipped emergency preparedness and response plan should any case arise.
“We have more than 14000 treatment doses of Tamiflu, a drug used to treat the virus and the influenza sentinel-surveillance sites were increased to ensure that there is at least one site per province. The National Reference Laboratory is also equipped with supplies for diagnosis of the influenza,” he said.
Kramer however advised that it is important for anyone with influenza-like illness symptoms such as cough; flu and fever among others, to seek medical attention.
As a preventative measure, the health expert also advised that people should cover their mouths while coughing or sneezing, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis.
Abdonlie noted that WHO considers that overall severity of the influenza pandemic to be moderate adding that 99 percent of those who have recovered from this infection, have recovered fully.
Originally, the influenza occurred in Mexico in April, this year but spread subsequently to other continents. The organization’s statistics as per Friday, show that, swine flu cases have soared to 30000 in more than 74 countries worldwide.
Out of the cases, 144 deaths have been confirmed.