No further swine flu cases reported at schools

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pretoria - No incidents of H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, were reported in schools on Monday, according to the Department of Health.

"Schools re-opened smoothly for the third quarter yesterday, with no reported cases of swine flu infections," department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe told BuaNews on Tuesday.

There were fears that the flu may spread as children returned to school yesterday, and there have been a number of cases among children.

The department, together with the Department of Basic Education, have put together provincial outbreak response teams to provide advice on how to tackle any cases of the H1N1 flu virus which may arise at schools.

However, Mr Hadebe said no provincial outbreak response teams were requested by any schools either.

The teams, made up of medical doctors, public health promoters, epidemiologists, communicable disease experts and researchers, will remain on high alert as a preventative measure and be in constant contact with health clinics and schools. They will also meet on a regular basis.

"The main purpose of these meetings is to report, manage and provide education and information to the public and to prevent the further spread of communicable disease outbreaks, such as meningitis, measles, cholera and H1N1 influenza," explained Mr Hadebe.

The department is currently working with its provincial partners on a plan to educate learners in schools across the country on swine flu.

"The department is working on a national plan on how to share information with schools on the influenza. A meeting is scheduled for Thursday, were we look at our national plan," said Mr Hadebe.

He said the department was not targeting certain schools, but involving all of them.

"The department, working closely with the Department of Basic Education, will be distributing information on the symptoms of swine flu and general hygiene practices to prevent the spread of it and other such diseases."

The department has meanwhile confirmed that there are over 100 cases of swine flu in South Africa since its outbreak on 12 June.

In line with a World Health Organisation recommendation, the department has now stopped routine laboratory testing of all suspected cases of influenza.

"What is critical is that we have reached the 100 cases, it is no longer essential for monitoring either the level of or nature of the risk posed by the pandemic virus or to guide implementation of the most appropriate response measures."

He said the exact number of infected persons will be announced on Friday.