Announcement by the WHO on elevation of Influenza A (H1N1) to global pandemic status on 11th June 2009 | Western Cape Government


Announcement by the WHO on elevation of Influenza A (H1N1) to global pandemic status on 11th June 2009

16 June 2009
Media Statement
12 June 2009
Announcement by the WHO on elevation of Influenza A (H1N1) to global pandemic status on 11th June 2009
The outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1) that started in Mexico and the United States of America has subsequently spread to many other countries. By 11 June 2009, the disease had spread to 74 countries with a cumulative total of 28 774 confirmed cases and 144 deaths.
The WHO held its fourth Emergency Committee meeting on 11th June 2009, at which it considered the latest available information on the transmission of the influenza A (H1N1) virus in a number of locations in countries in different regions of the World Health Organization, and concluded that the criteria for a global pandemic have been met. Following advice from the Committee, the WHO Director-General decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 5 to phase 6.

In this context, a "pandemic" simply means that an influenza virus, new to humans, has appeared, is spreading and is causing disease in many parts of the world.

To date, there are no cases of Influenza A (H1N1) reported in South Africa. This despite stringent monitoring of suspected cases. We wish to reassure everyone that measures have been put in place since the outbreak to ensure preparedness and rapid response should any case be identified in the country. These measures include:

  • Provision and implementation of guidelines on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Influenza Case management and prevention.
  • Operational Outbreak Response Teams in all provinces.
  • Training of Provincial Rapid Response Teams on Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response have been conducted in all Provinces.
  • Heightened clinical and laboratory surveillance are in place to identify any suspected case of Influenza A (H1N1).
  • The Department of Health is working with a Multi-Sectoral Committee that includes various government departments, the WHO and other organizations to assess and monitor the situation on a weekly basis.

What are the implications of the increase in the Pandemic alert level for South Africa?

  • The Department of Health will continue to maintain a high level of vigilance and preparedness.
  • Following World Health Organisation recommendation that there is no need for the closure of any borders or restrictions to international travel and trade South Africa will not institute any such measure.

Are medicines to treat influenza A (H1N1) available in South Africa?

  • The majority of cases have mild infection and recover without the need for medication.
  • However the Department of Health has adequate stocks of medicine available for the cases who may need treatment

What can the public do to protect themselves from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available at present against Influenza A (H1N1). However, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. These include:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash bin after you use it.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to limit the spread of germs.

What should people do if they suspect that they have Influenza A (H1N1)?
The clinical presentation of influenza A H1N1 infection in humans resembles seasonal influenza and other acute upper respiratory tract infections. This includes fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea. When you experience these symptoms report to the nearest health facility.

In conclusion, remain assured that the Department of Health is prepared to effectively deal with any outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1) in the country.

For more information, contact Fidel Hadebe on 012 312-0663 or 0795173333.

Issued by Department of Health


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