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Director, Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Marion Bullock-Ducasse, is urging Jamaicans, or non-nationals in the island, who have travelled to locations affected by the Influenza A (H1N1) virus within the last two weeks, to immediately contact their health care providers, the public health departments in their parishes or the Ministry of Health.
She said there may be persons who have been exposed to the virus, who are not showing symptoms, but may still have been infected.
“We want the public to know that they need to be in touch with their health care providers, or the public health departments in all the parishes, or the Ministry of Health, to let us know what is happening to them,” she stated.
“We do not want persons who have been in the affected areas to just stay at home and just wait it out. They should be making contact so that we can take samples for them for testing,” Dr. Bullock-Ducasse added.
This is necessary in order for the Ministry to effectively monitor, or prevent any possible outbreak of the virus in the island.
“You don’t have to be ill, you can call and then we will guide these persons. The rationale for this is that with early detection and treatment, if we do have a case here we can put in place our prevention and control measures,” Dr. Bullock-Ducasse said.
Up to May 1, the World Health Organisation reported that 13 countries have officially reported 367 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. The United States Government has reported 141 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Mexico has reported 156 confirmed human cases of infection, including nine deaths.
Countries that have reported laboratory confirmed cases, with no deaths, are Austria, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In the meantime, though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended a travel ban, or closure of borders to affected countries, Dr. Bullock-Ducasse is appealing to persons in Jamaica to postpone non-essential travel to countries affected by the influenza A (H1N1).
“At the Ministry of Health, we do follow the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. However, we are saying to our population, for the countries where we are seeing cases, we are recommending that persons should postpone non-essential travel. If you do not really need to go to the countries, or areas in countries where cases have been reported, then we are recommending that persons postpone or delay their travel,” she advised.

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