SA SWINE FLU TOLL ON RISE

The swine flu death toll in South Africa has risen to eight . The latest two fatalities were confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases yesterday.

The swine flu death toll in South Africa has risen to eight . The latest two fatalities were confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases yesterday.

The two are a 21-year-old woman from Pretoria and a 38-year-old pregnant woman from Port Elizabeth.

The Gauteng victim is the first to have been killed by the H1N1 influenza in the province. The Eastern Cape victim also had TB for which she was receiving treatment.

Sowetan has also learnt that another man had died of suspected H1N1 influenza at Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria. But the NICD could not confirm this yesterday.

Nombuso Shabalala, the NICD spokesperson, said: "Only eight deaths have been confirmed in the country. Of the eight, three have been of pregnant women and four had no underlying conditions, while the other one had hypertension and was diabetic.

"Containment of the influenza is not possible given the highly infectious nature of the virus."

About 3485 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in South Africa since June 12, when the first incident was reported.

Gauteng has the highest number of infections, followed by Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Shabalala said: "It is important for those persons in the high-risk category who present with moderate or severe respiratory illness requiring hospitalisation to be identified and treated early.

"The focus should therefore be on identifying persons at risk of complications, those with moderate or severe illness, and those in contact with people who may be at risk of complications," she said.

"Persons at risk of complications include the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with chronic underlying illness such as diabetes, those with HIV-Aids, and chronic lung or chest infections."

The Health department has set up a hotline related to swine flu queries. The number is 0861-364-232, and the e-mail query service at H1N1@ health.gov.za.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe recorded its first cases of swine flu yesterday after five private school students were diagnosed with symptoms of the disease in the border town of Mutare.

Health minister Henry Madzorera told a news conference in Harare yesterday that the government, the World Health Organisation and the University of Zimbabwe's medical department had put in place a response plan.

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