Flu measures in place for inauguration

There is no need to panic about swine flu as dozens of international dignitaries arrive for the inauguration of President-in-waiting Jacob Zuma, the health department said on Friday.

"The normal measures that have been put in place will apply to them (the international guests) also," chief director of communicable diseases Dr Frew Benson told reporters.

"If flight or ground health officials pick up flu like symptoms on passengers, they have protocols on how to deal with it."

He said people around the world had been advised that if they were experiencing flu-like symptoms, they should not travel.

Benson said there was no need for anyone to panic this weekend.

"We know it has spread to several countries and those countries also have plans in place. Travel advice has been given to people.

"Already in Mexico, people are alert and those who are sick are urged to stay at home."

The two-week old virus influenza A(H1N1) has thus far affected 24 countries with 1893 confirmed cases and 31 deaths - two in the US and 29 in Mexico.

Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs department, was on Friday unable to tell Sapa exactly how many international guests from the affected countries were due in South Africa for the inauguration on Saturday.

"This is a matter for the health department but we will release the names of the guests if and when they arrive."

Earlier on Friday, Mamoepa said in a statement several heads of state and government had begun arriving at the OR Tambo International Airport. These included presidents Laurent Gbagbo from Cote d' Ivoire, Jakaya Kikwete from Tanzania, Teodoro Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and James Michel from the Seychelles.

Deputy presidents included Rafael Albuquerque of the Dominican Republic, Joseph Boakai of Liberia, Didjob di Ndinge from Gabon, and Noli de Castro of Philippines.

Sri Lankan prime minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, King Mswati III of Swaziland and King Letsie III of Lesotho had also arrived. - Sapa

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