Travelers urged to take precautions against H1N1

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Health has urged travelers to the northern hemisphere to remain on high alert and exercise caution as part of minimising the risk of contracting the H1N1 virus.

The department said the number of H1N1 Influenza cases in South Africa had decreased considerably for the last three weeks with the exception of one case reported on Sunday.

A 28 year old female, who is 33 weeks pregnant, was admitted to a private hospital in Cape Town, after contracting H1N1.

The woman, who is currently in the Intensive Care Unit, had traveled from Dubai. The department has cautioned that the risk of contracting the infection had shifted to travelers specifically those traveling to the northern hemisphere.

"Disease activity in the northern hemisphere continues to spread and increase in intensity, in Europe, North America and Canadian countries were reporting nationwide increased rates of influenza-like illnesses with high rates of the pandemic H1N1 2009 virus detections," said Health spokesperson Fidel Hadebe, on Tuesday.

Hadebe advised travelers to take precautions as part of preventing illnesses, noting that no H1N1 vaccine was available in South Africa, including Africa as a whole.

"The department is engaged in negotiations with a view to securing doses of H1N1 vaccine. At this stage, there is no vaccine that is registered in Africa," said Hadebe.

As of Monday, the country had confirmed 12 619 cases of H1N1 and 91 deaths.