Kenya confirms first swine flu case

Friday, July 3, 2009

Flag of Kenya

A British medical student has become the first confirmed case of swine flu in Kenya, east Africa. The student, who was in a group of 33, was in Kenya to attend a series of medical camps in Nyanza province.

The whole group is currently quarantined in their hotel in Kisumu while undergoing treatment. A second suspected case involving a Kenyan woman who had just arrived from India was put in isolation at Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital Nairobi pending laboratory results.

Over the weekend there was panic in the capital as mobile text messages circulated warning people to stay away from Sarit centre, a popular commercial establishment where another suspected case had been diagnosed. The patient's test results however came back negative for the H1N1 virus.

Kenya has maintained strong ties with Britain since gaining independence in 1962. Direct flights to London operate regularly. There are fears that the high tourism season which begins this month and runs into September will be adversely affected even as the global recession rages on. The tourism sector is yet to make a full recovery after the country almost slid into a civil war following a disputed general election two years ago, which forced the international community to intervene.

A cholera epidemic sweeping across the country has exacerbated the situation, killing at least 80 people since March and setting the stage for a major scare.

In recent years Kenya has received large numbers of tourists most of whom troop to Kogelo in Nyanza province to visit the ancestral home and family of the current US president's late father Hussein Obama. There are plans to put up a museum there in his honour. This has made the region extremely susceptible to the current flu pandemic.