TONGA, MARSHALLS JOIN PACIFIC FLU VICTIMS

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Both countries report their first cases of swine flu

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 15, 2009) - Tonga has confirmed its first cases of Influenza A (H1N1) otherwise known as swine flu on Tuesday July 14.

Two Tongan women, one local and the other a visitor from Australia, are the first two confirmed laboratory cases for the virus in Tonga.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the Marshall Islands also confirmed its first case of swine flu on Wednesdy, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. Marshalls health officials did not reveal how many cases were involved. ]

The Chief Medical Officer for Public Health, Dr. Malakai ‘Ake, confirmed today that the two cases were detected earlier this month between July 4 to 7, after they came into Vaiola Hospital seeking medical attention.

He said the first woman, an overseas Tongan, presented on July 5 while the other a resident in Tongatapu came in on July 7. The women in their 20’s and 30’s were feeling the symptoms of the virus, including coughs, sore throats and joint aches.

"The medical officers at the hospital suspected this to be the virus and gave them Panadol, advised them to go straight back home and stay put while tests were sent tests to New Zealand for confirmation The results of the tests released yesterday confirmed the cases to be the Influenza A."

Dr. ‘Ake that both women had quickly recovered and were doing well. One had returned to Australia, while the other a local resident in Tongatapu is said to be back working. Family members had not shown any of the symptoms.

He said the airborne flu spreads from person to person like our normal seasonal flu and can be treated with Panadol.

"Tamiflu is given in the cases where the person contracting the virus has a chronic disease or pregnant. Just because Tonga has now got two confirmed cases there is no need to impose any restrictions on travel," he said.

"Deaths worldwide are currently less than 1 percent and its severity is not extreme. International health regulations require the protection of the patients without unnecessary interference with international transport and trade."

"The swine flu is a pandemic and was bound to come to Tonga, what we are doing now is continuing with our public programs on television and radio informing people of signs like coughs, running nose, sore throat, headaches, body aches even fever and to seek medical attention."

The World Health Organisation has to date reported 94,512 confirmed laboratory cases worldwide.

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