Barbados On Swine Flu Alert!

Health authorities announced the implementation of a national action plan to mitigate the deadly virus that has claimed several lives in Mexico and spread to other countries including two of Barbados’ key tourist markets – the United States and Canada.

Officials were also monitoring the situation with two local sports teams – football and polo – who are set to return from Mexico “in the near future”, indicating they would have to report to port health officials on their arrival back home.

The island’s heightened state of action was announced by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, and Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John, following an emergency meeting of all major public sector agencies and some private bodies at the Pan-American Health Organisation’s Dayrell’s Road, Christ Church headquarters.

Key provisions of the national plan, influenced by the World Health Organisation’s decision to deem the current swine flu outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern” included:

• heightened surveillance at all ports of entry in Barbados including the Grantley Adams International Airport and Bridgetown Port and well as the Ministry of Health’s laboratory.

• declarations to port health personnel by all people entering Barbados from Mexico and other infected places within the last week to 10 days.

• circulation of guidelines on diagnosis and treatment to all private doctors.

• careful management of the island’s limited supplies of the anti-viral using Tamiflu.

• polyclinics will be the first line of treatment for mild cases including those of tourists.

The swine flu virus refers to influenza cases that are caused by Orthomyxoviruses that are endemic to pig populations. Symptoms are similar to those of other strains of human flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, while diarrhoea and vomiting can also occur.

Inniss said urged all members of the public to immediately adopt precautionary measures recommended by the experts including frequent hand washing with soap and water, covering the mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing and seeking urgent medical attention if they have the stated symptoms.

“Government is working assiduously to effectively manage the situation as we know it at this time, and we will continue to work collectively to implement our plan of action to protect the health of Barbadians. We will keep monitoring the international events and update the public as the situation unfolds,” the minister said.

St. John said while the WHO had not declared a pandemic authorities needed to be on alert, especially since “this virus is not like any other that we have had in the world before.”

“Suffice it to say that we want to make it clear to the general population that we are going to keep abreast of current events and we are going to communicate to them frequently about their involvement because it’s not just the ministries and different agencies that have to respond,” she said.

“There has to be responsibility on the part of the general public and that’s why it is important if there have travelled that they declare, it is important that wherever they travelled to that they exhibit the precautions of hand washing, alcohol gels are also useful.”

The CMO made it clear Barbadians who were inoculated with the seasonal influenza vaccine were not protected from swine flu.

She also said currently there was vaccination offering protection from the current virus, adding that the drugs Tamiflu, of which Barbados had a supply from Cricket World Cup, and Relenza were successfully treating cases of the illness.

“We are going to be using these judiciously. We are not in a position where we need to use them as profolaxis for front line workers and I am not just talking medical staff, the front-line workers are well know to us because we have been generally immunising them as needs to be,” she noted.

“We are keeping a close eye on developing events when that is necessary we will inform the general public very specifically of who, when and where we will be employing of our very precious stocks of Tamiflu.”



2 Responses to Barbados On Swine Flu Alert!

  1. Pingback: Barbados On Swine Flu Alert!

  2. Pingback: Barbados On Swine Flu Alert! « Bajan Global Report | Ace Card's Caribbean Vacation

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