No swine flu at school

2019-03-12 15:56

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Deccan Road Primary school has allayed fears that there could be an outbreak of swine flu at the school, after parents expressed concern about a letter sent to pupils of a Grade 1 class whose teacher had been diagnosed with swine flu.

The letter was, however, not circulated to pupils from other classes.

The letter, dated March 7, advised parents that the teacher had been “diagnosed with the H1N1 [swine flu] virus. Please take precautions should your child display signs and symptoms of the flu virus.”

Two sets of parents told The Witness that they had not been notified.

One said: “I saw it because another parent posted it in a group chat. It’s such an important thing and every parent should know.”

The school’s principal, Sharon Naidoo, said, however, that the teacher in question was already back at school and fit. She was not at the school during the time she was ill, Naidoo added.

“The teacher was on family responsibility leave for her child who had swine flu. Then last week she contacted the school to say she was diagnosed with the illness.

“She wasn’t even in school during the entire time. We only sent the letter as a precautionary measure for parents not to ignore any symptoms displayed by their children … don’t take it lightly,” she said.

Naidoo said no pupil from that class reported being sick. “We had a similar situation last year where one pupil was hospitalised. We followed the same procedure of notifying parents, and the issue was contained.”

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health said it was not aware of this particular case, but said it “wishes to emphasise to the public that there is no need for alarm”.

“H1NI is not an issue anymore as the flu vaccine is made available annually and is a trivalent vaccine that protects against H1N1, influenza A and B,” spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said.

This point was echoed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which even told The Witness that it was not monitoring the illness any longer since its strain was “non existent”.

One NICD expert, who is not allowed to speak to media, said swine flu was no longer a problem and should be seen as the same as regular flu.

“Ten years ago there was a pandemic because no one had immunity to it. It has all settled down now. It’s just that the problem is it’s still referred to as ‘swine flu’ and that scares people. But it doesn’t have the same connotations as before. It’s no longer the same thing that caused havoc. It should be treated like normal flu. If you’re sick, stay at home. If you’re coughing, take medicine,” the expert said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  swine flu

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