Swine flu hotline ready

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pretoria - The public will be able to request more information or ask specific questions related to the H1N1 Influenza, or swine flu, via a hotline, from Wednesday.

Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, said last week a hotline will be put in place to help the public, as part of government's communication efforts on the pandemic.

The hotline number is: 0861 DOH CDC or 0861 364-232.

It will be operated by trained personnel on communicable diseases who will in turn be supported by experts from the department.

In addition, the department has put in place a dedicated email address for members of the public to ask questions and request information on swine flu. The email address is: H1N1@health.gov.za.

"Members of the public are invited to take advantage of these communication platforms to deal with the pandemic," the department said.

Meanwhile, South Africa has confirmed 3 485 cases of H1N1 with 1 576 new cases being confirmed over the weekend. The number of deaths related to the pandemic is six.

The provinces with the most infections are Gauteng, which has 1 818 cases, followed by the Western Cape with 810 cases and 359 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says illnesses such as existing cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer are currently considered risk factors.

"Asthma and other forms of respiratory disease have been consistently reported as underlying conditions associated with an augmented risk of severe pandemic disease in several countries," the WHO said in a statement.

According to the WHO, recent reports suggest obesity may be another risk factor for severe H1N1 infection.

Pregnant women also seemed to be at higher risk for more severe disease.