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The Ministry of Health is appealing to persons from the affected areas who have been interviewed by the health team and identified as having fever and other symptoms consistent with malaria, to go to their nearest Health Centre for treatment this weekend.
Persons who have already received treatment only need to report to their Health Centre if the fever and symptoms have returned. Persons receiving treatment must complete the full course of three days.
“It is extremely important that persons with suspected malaria receive treatment as soon as possible,” Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse said. According to her, persons who have not completed the course of their medication are in danger of becoming ill. Those who were hospitalized must return to the hospital for their seven (7) day check-up.
The Health Centres that will remain open for the weekend in Kingston are the Hagley Park, Maxfield Park, Denham Town and Comprehensive Health Centres and Kiwanis Maternity Centre. In St. Catherine, the Sydenham, Greater Portmore, Christian Pen and St. Jago Park Health Centres will be opened.
Dr. DuCasse said that persons must continue to be vigilant and visit a doctor or health facility, if they exhibit any symptoms of the disease. She explained that the Ministry is taking a proactive approach by testing and treating simultaneously in an effort to contain the spread and reduce the public health risk to the nation.
As far as mass events are concerned, Dr. DuCasse said that the Ministry is advising against all mass gatherings in the affected areas. “We would prefer to complete our fever surveillance and house to house survey to determine the extent of compliance of persons with the instructions of the health team. We would also like to complete the assessment of the effectiveness of the vector control programme in these areas before changing our policy on mass gatherings. We will review the situation by mid-week next week.”
There are now 77 confirmed cases of malaria. All of the cases either reside in or had links to the identified communities, which suggests that the outbreak is still confined to the initial areas of Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens, Trench Town, Union Gardens and Delacree Park.
Persons residing in or visiting these communities are again reminded to take the necessary precaution to protect themselves from infections. These precautionary measures are:
(1) Wearing appropriate light coloured clothing that covers the body such as long sleeves, pants and socks.
(2) Avoid wearing dark clothes at nights as this attracts mosquitoes
(3)Use insect repellant containing the chemical DEET
(4)Sleep under a mosquito net.