'There is no swine flu outbreak,' says KZN health MEC after girl, 9, dies

2019-07-24 21:24
A deserted Deccan Road Primary School on Tuesday afternoon. The school will re-open on Monday following a deep cleansing of the school over the next few days.

A deserted Deccan Road Primary School on Tuesday afternoon. The school will re-open on Monday following a deep cleansing of the school over the next few days. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has called for calm since a nine-year-old girl died after contracting H1N1, also known as swine flu, in Pietermaritzburg.

The young girl, a Grade 3 pupil at Deccan Road Primary, died on Friday.

The school has - on the advice of the provincial health department, Msunduzi Municipality's environmental health department as well as specialists and doctors from Northdale Hospital, decided to close its doors until Monday for a "deep chemical cleansing".

Simelane-Zulu, however, said this does not constitute an outbreak.

"We wish to reiterate that this does not constitute an 'outbreak' as has been erroneously reported elsewhere."

According to Simelane-Zulu, the virus, which caused a global influenza pandemic 10 years ago, "is now a seasonal influenza virus that becomes prevalent in winter and co-circulates with other seasonal viruses … [it] is thus being treated as normal flu".

The department called on the authorities, schools, doctors and members of the public to exercise restraint, saying that spreading rumours about an outbreak would create unnecessary panic and harm.

The department will continue to investigate the matter, but have advised parents to be on the lookout for signs of severe influenza. 

"We have issued a notice to health facilities across the province to ensure that they are on the lookout for severe types of influenza, and treat them with urgency. If influenza is treated on time and treated correctly, it need not have any devastating results," added Simelane-Zulu.

Those who display worrying signs such as chest pains or shortness of breath are strongly advised to seek medical attention.  

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