Hogan: SADC ready for swine flu

Southern African countries have put a response plan in place to deal with possible swine flu cases, Health Minister Barbara Hogan said on Thursday.

“I’ve just come back from a meeting of SADC [Southern African Development Community] health ministers,” Hogan told South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio. She said one of the items on the agenda was the supply of anti-viral medicine in the region.

“That was one item in which we have set up a technical task team and they are, through the World Health Organisation [WHO], accessing additional supplies for the whole region,” said Hogan. South Africa had enough medicine to deal with an outbreak, she added.

Hogan said South Africa had “fortunately, or unfortunately” good experience in dealing with outbreaks, referring to the recent cholera outbreak.

As a result, national and provincial response teams were already in place.

“We’ve activated all those response teams at the weekend ...
we’ve been through this before,” said Hogan.

She said two suspected cases—but neither confirmed—had been reported in South Africa and that there was no need to panic. “We don’t have a case yet in South Africa where people are being infected by pigs.

“I’m saying to people, be sensible, but if you are worried, contact a health official.

“Don’t travel if you don’t have to,” she added. If a South African fell sick in another country, he or she should immediately report to the health authorities there, said Hogan.

WHO raised its flu alert on Wednesday, signalling a swine flu pandemic as “imminent” as at least nine countries had confirmed cases and another 20 countries reported suspected cases.

“Obviously, we’ve got to be on high alert and monitor the situation in South Africa. We are on high alert and we are respecting everything the WHO is saying,” said Hogan.

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