Minister of Health: SVG prepared for any cases of Swine Flu
July 3, 2009
Minister of Health: SVG prepared for any cases of Swine Flu

The Ministry of Health is assuring the public that it is sufficiently prepared for any case of swine (HINI virus) flu that may come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

This assurance came as Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater and Chief Medical Officer Dr St. Clair Thomas addressed the media on Friday, 29 June, 2009, at the Ministry of Health’s Conference room.

Dr. Slater said there is a high risk of the disease coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as many persons travel to St. Vincent from countries that have had the disease, especially during the Carnival season.

Dr. Slater, however, stated that his ministry has taken heed of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to keep borders open, but have stepped up on surveillance at the E.T. Joshua Airport in an effort to detect any case that may come into the country.

When passengers arrive, they are asked to fill out a questionnaire, which has a detachable section which the passengers keep. Surveillance is also being done at Ports at Bequia, Kingstown, Campden Park, Union Island, Canouan and Mustique. Depending on the information given on the questionnaire, further relevant tests will be conducted on the individual to determine whether or not he or she has the HINI virus.

Giving a breakdown of the spread of the pandemic, Dr Thomas said as at Thursday, 28 June, 2009, 55, 857 cases have been confirmed internationally. In the PAN American region (Canada, North, Central and South America) 42,402 cases were confirmed with 249 deaths, of which, 116 have been in Mexico. The Caribbean recorded two deaths in the Dominican Republic. Trinidad and Tobago confirmed 25 positive cases, Jamaica, 19 cases, Barbados, 5, Bahamas, 4, Suriname, 11, Antigua and Barbuda, 2, and Dominica, 1.

Thomas also confirmed that 24 swab samples from St.Vincent and the Grenadines were sent to Trinidad and Tobago to be tested. All came back negative. Dr. Slater, however, added that 24 swab samples must not suggest that 24 persons had the symptoms, as more than one swab test may have been needed for a patient.

In the event that a person tests positive for swine flu (HINI virus), the medication Tami Flu will be administered to the person. Dr. Thomas stated that there is enough Tami Flu medication to adequately treat 750 infected persons and more medication can be supplied upon demand. Dr. Thomas, however, explained that there are three categories of illness related to the disease.

If there is a person who tests positive for the virus, but remains healthy, no treatment will be administered. That person will be asked to remain at home until further instructions are given. If the person tests positive and is sick, treatment would be administered. If the person is severely ill, he or she will be admitted to the hospital and treated there.

While Dr. Slater said that masks do not have to be used for carnival as a general preventative method, he, however, urged Vincentians to practice good hygiene, to cover mouths when coughing or sneezing and to wash hands regularly. Persons are also asked to contact any health centre in St. Vincent and the Grenadines if they suspect that they may have the virus and remain at home until they have been examined by a doctor.

The symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches and chills. The first outbreak of the swine flu virus occurred in Mexico City on March 18, 2009.(OS)