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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging schools with adequate resources, to make insect repellents available for students, to assist with the Government’s drive to combat the spread of the Zika Virus (ZikV).
  • The Minister was speaking to journalists while participating in the National Clean-up Day in Schools event, at Calabar Primary and Junior High, in Kingston, today (February 5).
  • The National Clean-Up Day was held to facilitate vector control activities and to get rid of mosquito breeding sites in schools.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging schools with adequate resources, to make insect repellents available for students, to assist with the Government’s drive to combat the spread of the Zika Virus (ZikV).

“We are inviting schools that have the resources or can get them, to make (repellents) available to the various classes, and to the school nurses and sick bays, so that anywhere, anytime there is an infestation of mosquitoes, there is something that can be done within the school compound,” he urged.

The Minister was speaking to journalists while participating in the National Clean-up Day in Schools event, at Calabar Primary and Junior High, in Kingston, today (February 5).

ZikV is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in and around areas where people live, work and play. The first case of the virus in Jamaica was confirmed by the Health Ministry in January.

Rev. Thwaites informed that some repellents have already been given out by the regional offices, while some are still available to be distributed.

In the meantime, the Minister rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty, joining students from Calabar Primary and Junior High and Alpha Infant and Primary schools with their clean-up activities.

The Minister said this activity was important in the fight against the spread of ZikV. “This is a real public health threat, and the children must be the first ones to know this and to learn proper environmental and hygienic habits,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites noted as well that when the children learn these good habits, they will in turn go home and tell their parents and also have influence on their community.

“The schools encompass over 600,000 young people. It’s the largest coming together of any grouping in Jamaica, so it’s natural that we should start here (in our response efforts),” he said.

He further advised teachers, school nurses and parents not to delay seeking treatment for a child, once he or she shows symptoms of ZikV. “Refer them to the primary health care centre nearest you,” urged.

The National Clean-Up Day was held to facilitate vector control activities and to get rid of mosquito breeding sites in schools.

ZikV is from the same family of viruses as dengue and Chikungunya, and share some similar symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.

The Government has been ramping up its ZikV response measures through drain and gully cleaning, bushing, training, mobilisation of health information officers, distribution of nets to cover water drums, and public education through town hall meetings, distribution of flyers, and town criers.