South Africa confirms first case of H1N1 flu

South Africa has identified the first case of the H1N1 flu virus in the country, the Department of Health said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the results of laboratory tests confirmed the case in the early hours of Thursday.

Hadebe said the patient, a 12-year-old child, arrived in South Africa from the United States on Sunday.

The child had flu-like symptoms and was admitted to a private hospital on Monday morning.

“The patient was kept in isolation and discharged after a few days in hospital. He is well and recovering in isolation at home,” he said.

“All contacts have been followed up and given necessary advice and treatment.”

The case was dealt with in accordance with the World Health Organisation and the health department guidelines, Hadebe said.

More details were not immediately available.

The Democratic Alliance called on the health department to announce planned emergency measures to stop the disease from becoming established in South Africa.

Spokesperson Mike Waters said: “It is now time for some urgent measures to be taken to protect and inform South Africans.

“South Africa has also not followed the example of other countries and used pamphlets and the media to inform the public about the importance of regular hand-washing to avoid infections, and the symptoms to look out for.”

He called on Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to make a public announcement about the department’s plans regarding swine flu after concerns were expressed that the health department was not taking the risk of an “epidemic” seriously.

Swine flu had reportedly claimed 165 lives around the world.

The global number of confirmed cases had topped 37 000 cases in 78 countries.

Last week, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic. - Sapa

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