JIS News

Q: Has there been any detection of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus in Jamaica?
No, the virus has not been detected in Jamaica.
Q: How likely is it that the virus will be in Jamaica?
A: Although there have been no reported cases in Jamaica thus far, given the porosity of our borders and the unrestricted movement of people and trade, this epidemic has serious implications for Jamaica’s economy and a number of its sectors including tourism, education, security and social interaction. Consequently, the country has been placed on high alert.
Q: Does the Ministry of Health have sufficient medication if the virus affects persons in Jamaica?
A: Yes. The World Health Organisation has a stockpile of appropriate drugs for the Region which will be released if suspected cases are reported in Jamaica. Two (2) anti-virals – Tamiflu and Zanamivir – are recommended for treatment and prevention of the disease. At this time, the Ministry has stocks of anti-virals to initiate treatment, as needed.
Q: How soon can medication be sourced if the Ministry runs out?
A: We can have additional medication in the island in 24 to 48 hours.
Q: Is medication available at all public health facilities across the island?
A: Medication is made available to all our regional facilities.
Q: Has the Ministry or will the Ministry be giving supplies to private doctors?
A: Yes, we are working closely with all medical and other personnel across the island.
Q: How prepared is the Ministry for the likelihood of an outbreak?
A: The country has been placed on high alert. We have activated our Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan which was finalised in July 2006. We have scaled-up surveillance activities at health care facilities and our ports of entry. Routine surveillance systems are in place to collect data for selected diseases and conditions, such as fevers and respiratory illness, from Sentinel Sites and through hospital active surveillance.
Q: What actions have been taken at the island’s ports of entry to detect anyone who may be coming in with the virus?
A: Surveillance has been strengthened at all our ports of entry. Immigration and other port workers have been alerted. We already have health desks at these ports and additional public health teams have now been assigned to the ports. We are distributing Health Alert Cards with information on the disease, precautionary measures to be taken and how to contact health workers. Informal ports are also being monitored.
Q: What are the symptoms of Influenza A (H1N1)?
A: Generally, the clinical symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza – fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough and aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can occur.
Q: How is it transmitted?
A: Influenza A (H1N1) is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease, caused by one of the several Influenza A viruses. We have no evidence at this time of transmission from pigs, but we have seen widespread human to human transmission. It is spread in much the same way as any strain of influenza, by close contact with an infected person.
Q: What can people do to minimise the likelihood of being infected?
A: Persons are encouraged to take the necessary precautions to prevent an onset of the influenza virus. These are:1. Frequent hand washing with soap and water2. Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing3. Avoid contact with persons with flu-like symptoms4. Avoid intimate contact including hand shaking and kissing
Anyone with flu-like symptoms is being advised to drink lots of fluids and rest until the symptoms are completely gone. They can take regular influenza medication. Aspirin must not be taken.
Q: Do we have quarantine facilities and where are they?
A: We have isolation facilities at all hospitals, and persons will also be quarantined at their homes.
Q: If persons are now ill, should they stay at home or should they go to the doctor?
A: Persons can stay home if they have symptoms but should ensure that they contact their healthcare provider, if the symptoms persist or get worse.

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