Swine flu hits Mutare Hillcrest prep school

featured image

Zimbabwe reported its first swine flu cases on Thursday after five pupils from the same school in the eastern border town of Mutare tested positive for the swine influenza virus, also called H1N1 flu.

Health minister Dr Henry Madzorera urged calm, saying the country has in place “a concrete preparedness and response plan.”

The affected pupils, aged between five and 10, were under quarantine, the minister said, adding that 27 pupils in total had been tested at the private Hill Crest Primary School for the virus.

The minister said students at the posh school “do a lot of travelling” – suggesting the carrier pupil may have contracted the virus outside the country.

In a stunning revelation, however, the minister said the cases were detected in “early August”, but would not explain why the announcement was not made until Thursday.

Madzorera said: "Influenza AH1N1 virus is no longer at ports of entry, it is now in the country and our focus now is identifying and being able to contain it to avoid further spread within the country.

“Through working closely with the World Health Organisation, the University of Zimbabwe (medical department) and all stakeholders in the national taskforce, the national trainers have been identified and trained for the major cities, all provinces and districts with ports of entry and exit.

“All lab scientists in the public service have received training in conducting rapid tests, collecting and forwarding specimens for confirmation.”

The minister said drugs for treatment of the virus had been sent to all hospitals, with special attention at points of entry in Mutare, Chirundu, Victoria Falls, Beitbridge, Plumtree and the main airports.

The minister said some 75 percent of doctors who had gone on strike pressing for better pay had gone back to work, allaying fears the country’s hospitals are not ready to deal with a major spread of the disease.