26 June 2019

Namibia: Swine Flu Hits Windhoek

Photo: Joseph Kayira/IRIN
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Two cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Windhoek this week, health executive director Ben Nangombe has said.

Nangombe yesterday told The Namibian that the ministry is investigating the matter, and will provide more details in due course.

The cases were reported at the Namibia Health Plan (NHP) office and the Roman Catholic Church-run Hildegard kindergarten and pre-school.

Abigail Raubenheimer, the NHP manager for marketing and communication, confirmed the case at the medical aid fund.

"We have received confirmation that a staff member and her family were diagnosed with swine flu. The staff member is working in a secluded area due to the confidential nature of her work.

"Staff members working in the same secluded area have all gone for testing, and those who showed symptoms of the flu have also been instructed not to return to work until confirmation of their health status," she said.

Raubenheimer added that all staff members have been briefed on preventive measures, and vaccination will be made available to them.

"The well-being of our staff and members continues to be our priority, and our medical advisers are closely monitoring the situation," she noted.

The Namibian understands that the NHP staff member got the swine flu from her child who was diagnosed with it, which resulted in her whole family being quarantined.

Although sister Dagmar OSB, who is in charge of the kindergarten, declined to comment on the situation by saying the issue was not of public interest, The Namibian has seen a letter she wrote to parents on 21 June 2019.

In the letter, she said one of the children had contracted swine flue on 20 June 2019 after running a high temperature.

She also stated that the parents had come to her on Friday morning to inform her that their child had been diagnosed with swine flu.

As a result, the nun stated in the letter, she had sought a doctor's advice, who told her to close the school from Monday to today due to the fact that more than half of the children were absent with flu, and those who had been at school had flu symptoms.

"He advised me to advise all parents, whether the children had flu or not, to be given the flu vaccine," she said, adding that the school would open its doors tomorrow.

Two epidemiologists explained to The Namibian that one can only call it swine flu when it is an infection from an actual pig, but when it is from person to person, it is called seasonal influenza.

H1N1 influenza patients exhibit symptoms such as red eyes, vomiting, runny and stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, high temperature and diarrhoea as well as fatigue, and the disease was last reported last year in June and July.

Petronella Masabane, who was acting executive director at the time, had explained that the first outbreaks of swine flu were in 2009 and 2010, where more than 8 000 cases were reported, while only 102 cases tested positive.

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