JIS News

Director of Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, has expressed satisfaction with the high priority that some employers have been giving to the Influenza A H1N1 situation.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Thank session, Dr. Bullock DuCasse said that, based on prior conversations, many employers have indicated that they have begun distributing hand sanitisers to employees, and have been conducting public education initiatives in their organisations.
She said that the initiatives include posting fliers in their respective organisations, and hosting Ministry of Health personnel to educate their staff about the virus.
Dr. DuCasse noted that due to the highly infectious nature of the virus, persons are advised to stay home for seven days after the onset of flu-like symptoms or until the symptoms subside.
Addressing the issue of leave entitlement and the eligibility of some workers to access such benefits, Dr. DuCasse had high praise for some employers whom, she said, have been lenient to the employees.
“I am happy to say that in some instances where persons did not have any leave to their credit, employers provided them with the time off, without any difficulty with their payment or without stopping any other leave they were entitled to,” she stated.
She noted that the Ministry has started dialogue with other employers to enlist their support. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security and other relevant Ministries and Government agencies, have also been approached for special considerations.
“The measures that are being prescribed are for public health reasons,” she explained, while emphasising that the need for such measures is to reduce the likelihood of persons infecting their co-workers with the virus.
The Ministry of Health has also been conducting checks, where possible, to verify the medical status of employees who have reported absent due to flu-like illnesses.
“For some persons, the Ministry’s public health team has made home visits to ascertain that persons are ill, and to assist them with education in terms of managing the illness, and have communicated this to the employers,” Dr. DuCasse said.
In the meantime, the MOH official is urging persons to play their part in preventing the spread of the virus. She explained that, as with any other influenza virus, the Influenza A H1N1Virus presents with symptoms such as fever, coughs, body aches, and, in some cases, diarrhoea and vomiting. She urged persons with such symptoms to stay home.
“Be on the look out for flu-like illness, because this virus presents as any other influenza, there is nothing special about how persons start becoming ill. If persons are having a fever, cough, then we are asking that those persons stay at home,” Dr. DuCasse stated.
“Should complications develop, or should they begin experiencing symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persons are feeling very lethargic or tired or generalised weakness, then we ask that such persons seek medical attention, immediately,” she noted.

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