Addis Ababa — Ethiopia has confirmed its first cases of H1N1 flu virus, Health Minister Tewedros Adhanhom said on Friday.
It was the second country in Africa after South Africa, to report the deadly flu.
"Since swine flu was declared in Mexico, Ethiopia has been free of the disease. But today we can confirm two cases," he said.
Both were teenage girls who arrived back in the country for a break from a studies in the United States on Saturday, he said.
"We have enough drugs to treat 100,000 people should it break out," Tewedros said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an influenza pandemic on Thursday and advised governments to prepare for a long-term battle against the virus.
In an update on the spread of the new flu strain earlier on Saturday, WHO said the number of worldwide cases had risen to 44,287, with 180 deaths.
Swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called "swine flu" it is not transmitted from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
Infection occurs when the virus gets into someone's airway and lungs. However, it isn't yet known how easily the virus spreads.
As with any infectious disease that is spread through the human respiratory system, health officials recommended the following precautions:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it; Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective; Try to avoid close contact with sick people; If you get sick, stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them; Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.