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With some 61 confirmed cases of malaria, mostly confined to four communities in the corporate area, Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley, has assured that the outbreak was under control and that there was no national health crisis.
Mr. Dalley, who was speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday (Dec. 12) informed that more than 75 per cent of these cases were treated successfully up to the time of his presentation, underscoring the success of containment efforts to date.
He said that 37 females and 24 males were found to be infected, with 20 persons being under 18 years old. “I am very happy to confirm that no deaths have arisen from the outbreak,” said Minister Dalley.
He noted that cases continue to be identified in Tivoli Gardens, Rose Town, Denham Town and Delacree Park, adding that infections outside of these areas were found to have connections with the affected communities.
Minister Dalley told the House that intensive house to house surveillance for case identification and vector control were being done in the affected areas as well as in St. Catherine, St. James and St. Ann.
As at December 10, 3,600 households were visited in Kingston and St. Andrew with 2,577 interviews conducted, 850 fever cases identified and 546 blood smears taken. In addition, 1,431 households were visited in Christian Pen, Cumberland and West Cumberland in St. Catherine, with no suspicious cases arising from these surveillance initiatives.
The Minister informed that the monitoring of potential breeding sites for the anopheles mosquito, the common vector for malaria, were being sustained.
He said “11 of the 15 anopheles mosquito breeding sites found were in the affected areas and 10 of them had remained free of anopheles. One was found to be still breeding due to the presence of a leaking pipe [and] it was retreated.
Meanwhile, “the entire commercial district along the waterfront up to King Street was fogged on the night of December 10. All parishes continue to enhance their surveillance and vector control activities, especially in St. Catherine. Solid waste management will have to be addressed in areas around the Kingston Public Hospital and around the Coronation Market,” he said.
Furthermore, the Health Minister informed the House that the island was receiving assistance from medical technologist from the region, to test blood samples.
A laboratory technologist from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre will arrive in the island today. “Any retired medical technologist we can find, on the instruction of the Prime Minister and backed by the Minister of Health, will be called out for service if they are willing to come,” Mr. Dalley said.
“The Government of Turks and Caicos will be sending a very small team of health workers to assist .in the reading of blood tests” he added, informing that an unspecified number of blood smears had been sent to the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta for rapid testing.
“The Ministry has received continued support from Pan American Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Education Fund as well as our Caribbean neighbours. The United Nations Population Fund has offered 2,000 bed nets and an additional 3,000 is expect from Copenhagen to be given to the people from the affected areas,” he informed.