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Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, says the Ministry of Health’s surveillance system has been on alert for respiratory illnesses for a number of years. She says the system has been heightened with the introduction of the new Influenza A(H1N1) virus and the Ministry has the experience and the capabilities to detect and treat cases early, through this heightened surveillance system.
Dr. Campbell Forrester says persons who are immuno-compromised such as HIV patients or persons on cancer treatment and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension, as well as pregnant women, should ensure that they check with their doctor if they have flu-like symptoms. Other persons are advised to stay home if they are ill and take regular influenza medication, but if symptoms persist or get worse, they should visit their healthcare provider.
The Chief Medical Officer says memebers of the public must however play their part by protecting themselves from any Influenza infection and looking out for others. “We must continue to stress the importance of good hygiene practices. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Also, ensure that you cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, preferably with a tissue, which you should dispose of properly,” she says.
Jamaica now has 27 confirmed cases of Influenza A(H1N1) after six cases were confirmed on Friday, June 26. Three of the cases were detected in Manchester, two in Kingston and one in St. Ann. Further investigations are being carried out on all six cases.
As at Friday, June 26, the World Health Organisation reports that 109 countries have reported 59,814 confirmed cases of Influenza A(H1N1) with 263 deaths.
For more information on Influenza A(H1N1), members of the public may call the Ministry’s toll free line at 1888-663-5683 seven days a week from 8:30am to 5:00pm.