More Resources to Fight H1N1, Following Second Death


Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, and senior officials of the Ministry, on Friday afternoon (July 10), briefed Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding on the current situation relating to the Influenza A (H1N1) virus.
According to the Ministry of Health, the meeting took place in light of the second recorded death in Jamaica associated with the virus. The person, who falls within the high risk group and had underlying medical conditions which caused complications, died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Thursday (July 09).
The Ministry said that six more cases of Influenza A (H1N1), including this latest fatality, have been reported, bringing the total to 39. Of the six new cases, three (3) are from Kingston, one (1) from St. Catherine and the other two are still being investigated.
At Friday’s meeting, the Prime Minister committed additional resources for the Ministry to continue its public health interventions. He also instructed the Minister to prepare a submission for Cabinet Monday morning (July 13), detailing comprehensive needs of the public health team to effectively manage the epidemic.
The Ministry is urging persons with flu-like symptoms, who may be among the high risk group for complications associated with Influenza A (H1N1) infection, to seek medical attention, immediately.
This group includes persons with chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and asthma, pregnant women and children under five years old.
Director of Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, said that careful attention must be paid to persons in the high risk groups who are vulnerable to developing complications.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse, however, assured the public that the Ministry is taking all necessary measures, in keeping with World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations.
“We do not wait for a confirmatory test result before we initiate treatment. Once a person exhibits flu-like symptoms, and it is suspected to be Influenza A (H1N1), we isolate and treat immediately,” she explained.
Persons are being reminded to observe good hygiene practices, including washing hands frequently with soap and water, and covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, preferably with a tissue, which should be discarded appropriately.
Persons should also stay home if they have flu-like symptoms and contact a doctor immediately if their condition persists, gets worst or if they have severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, diarrhoea or vomiting.
Additional information on Influenza A(H1N1) is available to the public from the Ministry’s toll free line, 1888-663-5683, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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