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Some $12 million has been spent to increase the country’s stock of anti-viral drugs, as well as launch a public education programme, as the Government implements strategies to counter any outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus.
To date, no case of the virus has been reported in Jamaica.
Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information and Telecommunications Hon. Daryl Vaz, addressing a private sector disaster preparedness contingency forum this morning (May 5) at Jamaica House, said that the Government recognises the importance of implementing measures and strategies that will enable the country to counter the virus.
Mr. Vaz noted that Jamaica has long had an effective public health system, “which has protected us from many tropical and other contagious diseases” and with the increase in international travel, the country’s systems have had to be upgraded to “handle outbreaks of various diseases”.
“We have successfully done so, and we are proud to say that we hold an impressive record of controlling and protecting our population from outbreaks of various diseases. The recent outbreak of the new sub-type, once known as swine influenza, now the H1N1 in this hemisphere, is another reason for us to share information, and put strategies in place to ensure that we are prepared to meet this and any other disease head on,” the Minister stated.
Mr. Vaz said that reports indicate that, to date, more than 1,400 persons in 20 countries have contracted the virus, adding that “we recognise that one of the most important strategies will be effective communication, to keep our people informed.”
“This, coupled with the routine testing of persons with flu-like symptoms, continues at health facilities,” he added, noting that “all our tests have so far been negative for the H1N1 influenza.”
He commended the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), who were the joint hosts of the forum, noting that the event represented the continued partnership existing between the Government and private sector on matters of national priority.
President of AMCHAM Diana Stewart, in her remarks, said the association believes in being prepared for developments, such as the Influenza A outbreak, which she contended “can disrupt the running of our businesses, and the lives of people across Jamaica.
“While all (of us) in Jamaica are praying that this flu virus does not pay us an unwelcomed visit, we have to be realistic by educating and preparing ourselves for such an eventuality. Therefore, (we have) teamed up with both the Government and the private sector, to have a co-operative contingency plan, which can be implemented, if necessary,” she added.

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