Tuesday, 30 June 2009 7:32 AM

Numbers of Swine Flu Cases Increase in the Region

The number of people confirmed with the A(H1N1) flu, or Swine flu, in the region has increased with Fiji and American Samoa confirming new cases.

According to Fiji Times Online, Fiji now has a total of 10 cases, an increase from the two initially reported cases with three of the cases being children under the age of eight.
According to the report, the country's Health Ministry spokesman, Iliesa Tora, said all 10 had travelled abroad recently.

Fiji Times has also reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) has donated a 'significant amount of Tamiflu and personal protective equipment to Fiji' with the country receiving more than $50,000 of personal protective equipment last week.

WHO Representative for the South Pacific Dr Ken Chen has called on the public to help slow the spread of the disease by following simple precautionary measures like washing hands with soap and water.

"People are urged to use handkerchief or tissue when coughing or sneezing, avoid contact with sick people, and avoid unnecessary gatherings," he said.

Dr Chen said people with flu-like symptoms should see the doctor immediately and stay at home until recovery.

He said WHO has assisted Fiji to build a state-of-the-art laboratory to diagnose influenza including the new Pandemic H1N1 2009 illness and is supporting many other Pacific countries in strengthening laboratory capacity and surveillance. "In most patients, the illness is mild and in small percentages of people, the illness may be more serious," he said.


Meanwhile, according to Radio New Zealand International, American Samoa's Governor, Togiola Tulafono, is urging local residents not to panic over the 8 confirmed cases of swine flu.

According to the report, the 'main hospital sent off to Honolulu 42 specimens with 8 coming back positive' and the Governor has stated that health staff are stepping up their public awareness campaign through the media.

With confirmations from American Samoa, the total number of countries in the region with confirmed cases is now at 6, the most numbers being in American Samoa and Fiji. With the latest update from WHO, Papua New Guinea has 1 case, Samoa also at 1, Tahiti now has 3 and Vanuatu has 2.
There are now a total of 70,893 confirmed cases worldwide with 311 deaths, according to WHO, however, this does not yet include the newly confirmed cases from Fiji and American Samoa.