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Cablegate: H1n1 Catches Hold in Mauritius

R 201314Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4699
INFO CDC ATLANTA GA
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG
AMEMBASSY PARIS

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000255


DEPT FOR AF/E AND AF/EPS
DEPT FOR OES/IHB
DEPT FOR CA/OCS/ACS
HHS FOR CDC
JOHANNESBURG FOR RCO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU KFLO KPAO KSAF AEMR AMGT ASEC CASC TBIO MP

SUBJECT: H1N1 CATCHES HOLD IN MAURITIUS

1. SUMMARY. Since the first confirmed case H1N1 flu in June, the
Government of Mauritius (GOM) has confirmed five deaths and 44
laboratory-confirmed cases, and expects the number to grow in coming
months. While the GOM urges the public not to panic, hospitals are
reporting difficulty coping with the daily influx of patients.
Schools remain open for the moment and the GOM has decided to
restrict H1N1 testing to pregnant women and those in intensive care.
END SUMMARY.

2. A 25-year old French tourist became the first H1N1 case recorded
in Mauritius in June after having visited Argentina a few days prior
to arriving on the island. The tourist was confined to his hotel
room and recovered after medical treatment. Early on, the GOM
focused on prevention and detection measures at the airport and
seaport, including the installation of a thermal scanner. Even as
cases spread around the island, with a number of the infected not
having traveled abroad, the GOM continues the intense screening
effort for incoming travelers. As of August 19, the Government of
Mauritius (GOM) has confirmed five deaths and 44
laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 flu and expects the number to
grow with another six to eight weeks of winter season remaining.

3. During a recent press conference, Prime Minister Ramgoolam urged
the population not to panic, noting that additional hospital staff
has been recruited and that flu clinics have been established inside
major hospitals and local community health centers to accommodate
patients suffering from flu symptoms, while those confirmed to have
the H1N1 strain are being treated in isolation wards. The media,
however, report that at least two major hospitals are having trouble
coping with the daily influx of patients, despite the measures taken
by the health authorities.

4. Even in the face of mounting pressure from teachers and medical
practitioners' unions, the GOM has ruled out the closure of public
schools. As part of a public campaign, the Government advised
parents to keep sick children at home for at least seven days.
Pupils with flu-like symptoms attending schools are provided with
masks and cared for in separate rooms prior to being sent to
hospitals for treatment. The government intensified its school
sensitization campaigns on basic hygiene, including proper hand
washing. The government also announced that all schools will be
disinfected over the course of this weekend.

5. Most recently, the government announced that H1N1 tests will
henceforth be restricted to pregnant women and those who are in
intensive care; this is in part because the GOM laboratory has the
capacity to perform only 12 tests for H1N1 a day. In addition, the
results of the tests, as well as information on all further
H1N1-related deaths, will only be disclosed to the World Health
Organization. In a welcome change for doctors, the GOM decided to
put the onus for treatment of all flu patients on doctors, who may
now decide whether or not to prescribe Tamiflu. Previously, doctors
were restricted by the Ministry of Health when treating patients,
and could not prescribe Tamiflu without an H1N1 positive test.

BLASER

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