Ministry of Health in Control of H1N1 Virus Situation


Minster of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has assured the nation that the Ministry is managing the Influenza A H1N1Virus situation, and there is no need for panic.
He said that the Ministry will continue to release information on a timely basis, as it seeks to control the spread of the virus in Jamaica.
“The virus is a public health threat of national concern, and the Ministry is not taking the matter lightly,” Mr. Spencer said in a statement in the House of Representatives at Gordon House on June 23.
Speaking on the closure of schools in Manchester since Monday June 22, Mr. Spencer admitted that only one case of the Influenza A H1N1 virus had been confirmed in one Manchester school. However, he explained that 13 per cent of that school population had begun to exhibit flu-like symptoms, which prompted the Ministry of Education, following discussions with his Ministry, to close all schools in the parish to prevent further spread.
“We concurred with the Ministry of Education that it would be in the best interest of the country to close the school, and we did that. We did not want to take any chances,” he explained.
He said the Ministry has been monitoring other institutions and places in other affected parishes, but have not found confirmed or suspected cases as concentrated as in the Manchester situation. He said that if the need arises for closure of other institutions, or public places, the Ministry will make the right decisions.
The Ministry’s “robust” surveillance team are in the fields conducting further investigations and tests on the 13 per cent of the school population, as well as on possible contacts. This team has been providing the Ministry with up-to-date information on early detection of cases.
“We have a team of competent public health specialists and managers who have a fine reputation, nationally and internationally, for successfully managing public health risks. The country and our people are in good hands,” he assured.
The Minister urged the nation to co-operate with the public health teams, and to adhere to their recommendations and precautionary measures, in order to minimise the spread of the virus and reduce the impact on activities on the different sectors.
A total of 19 cases of the Influenza A H1N1 virus have now been confirmed in six of the 14 parishes. The affected parishes are Kingston and St. Andrew (4), St. Catherine (4), St. Mary (3), Trelawny (2), St. James (3), Westmoreland (1) and Manchester (2).
On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Phase 6 of its influenza pandemic alert, indicating that the Influenza A (H1N1) virus was now a global pandemic, and that sustained community transmission of the virus is occurring in more than one (1) WHO Region.
Minister Spencer announced that the latest confirmed cases, including one at the Manchester school, indicate that Jamaica now has local transmission.
He said that this development was not unexpected, and is in keeping with the pattern of transmission, globally.
“We expect that we will continue to see an increase in the number of confirmed cases, especially in light of the mobility of the Jamaican people within and without our borders,” he stated.
He assured the nation that there is adequate supply of medication to treat suspected and confirmed cases. He said the Ministry’s supply was recently bolstered by donations from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Government of Mexico.

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