Press briefing on confirmed influenza A (H1N1) case in Kenya - 29th June 2009 by the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On Saturday (27th June, 2009) officers in my Ministry received a sample from a 20 year old British national who was in a group of 34 British students who travelled from the United Kingdom and are currently in Kisumu, Kenya undertaking field studies. The British students came to Kenya on 21st June, 2009 via JKIA and traveled to Kisumu by bus. Two days later, one of the students, a 20 year old male, developed a headache and joint pains. On Wednesday 24th June, his girlfriend in Nottingham, United Kingdom who had been in close contact with him earlier in the United Kingdom called him and informed him that she had tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) also known as Swine flu.

The British national, who also happens to be a medical student, visited one of our facilities and samples were taken and brought to Nairobi on Sunday at 2.30pm for testing. The sample was tested at the CDC -KEMRI and the National Influenza centre (NIC) laboratories in Nairobi. THE SAMPLE TESTED POSITIVE FOR INFLUENZA A (H1N1) - SWINE FLU - IN BOTH LABORATORIES.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish now to inform Kenyans that this is the first case of confirmed Swine flu diagnosed in Kenya, and whose infection occurred in the United Kingdom.

Since this confirmation, my officers have been monitoring the student. His condition is stable and does not require hospitalization. Meanwhile the Ministry has quarantined the whole group of 30 students staying in a section of a Kisumu hotel. In the meantime, we have embarked on tracing any contacts that the student has made while in Kenya.

If any of the contacts will exhibit flu like symptoms, they will be tested and if found positive, they will be appropriately managed.

Ladies and gentlemen, SWINE FLU, is a relatively mild illness in areas affected, and therefore there should be no cause for panic. In the vast majority of cases, the disease does not require hospitalization. I wish to inform Kenyans that it is most likely that there will be more cases of H1N1 in Kenya. The public should however remain calm since my Ministry and partners have already put in place appropriate preventive measures. Currently we have stocked over 50,000 doses of the medicine TAMIFLU which is used to treat this disease. Anyone needing the medication either from a government or private clinic, will receive drugs from my ministry. It should be noted that the disease is treatable and usually can resolve on its own. It is important that if you suspect you are infected you seek medical care. Only severe cases require the TAMIFLU drug. Patients with flu like illness should seek medical care especially those with other chronic diseases. We would also like to inform the public that the current flu vaccine does not protect against the new H1N1.

Further as per the International health regulations 2005; my Ministry has notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about this single case. The United Kingdom has had more than 4,000 cases confirmed and more than 29,000 in the United States of America.

Finally let me appeal to Kenyans not to start any rumours about the current situation and that my Ministry will update the public appropriately with the correct information.

As of now, the most effective preventive measures are good hygiene practices which should include, frequent washing of hands with soap, covering mouth and nose with disposable tissue, avoiding touching of eyes, nose and mouth. We further advice the public to avoid close contact with confirmed cases. All health workers and the general public should therefore remain vigilant and provide any information on the numbers provided below:

Hon. Beth Mugo, EGH,MP.
June 29, 2009


National surveillance unit:
0722 331 548, 0202040542, 2718292,

NIC- KEMRI,Laboratory contact :
0736-155251, 0733-616602 and 0722-675335

Jomo Kenyatta Airport