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SA can handle swine flu: Hogan.

Southern African countries have put a response plan in place to deal with possible swine flu cases, Health Minister Barbara Hogan said in late April on her return from a meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) health ministers.

She said one of the items on the agenda was the supply of antiviral medicine in the region. 'That was one item in which we have set up a technical task team and they are, through the World Health Organization (WHO), accessing additional supplies for the whole region,' said Hogan. South Africa had enough medicine to deal with an outbreak, she added.

Hogan said South Africa had 'fortunately, or unfortunately' good experience in dealing with outbreaks, referring to the recent cholera outbreak. As a result, national and provincial response teams were already in place. 'We've activated all those response teams at the weekend ... we've been through this before,' said Hogan. She said two suspected cases, neither confirmed, had been reported in South Africa and that there was no need to panic.

'We don't have a case yet in South Africa where people are being infected by pigs.

I'm saying to people, be sensible, but if you are worried, contact a health official. Don't travel if you don't have to,' she added. If a South African fell sick in another country, he or she should immediately report to the health authorities there, said Hogan.

WHO raised its flu alert on 22 April, signalling a swine flu pandemic as 'imminent', as at least nine countries had confirmed cases and another 20 countries reported suspected cases. 'Obviously, we've got to be on high alert and monitor the situation in South Africa. We are on high alert and we are respecting everything the WHO is saying,' said Hogan.

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Title Annotation:South Africa
Author:Bateman, Chris
Publication:CME: Your SA Journal of CPD
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:May 1, 2009
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