Increasing Influenza A (H1N1) Alert

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Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John (FP)

The Ministry of Health is advising Barbadians of the need to maintain vigilance and use of appropriate hygiene measures as they go about their usual activities. This is in light of evidence of an increasing number of persons being affected by the influenza virus, A(H1N1).

This advice was given today by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John in revealing the cumulative number of confirmed cases for the island now stood at 73.

The Senior Health Official said that this number represented only a fraction of the total number of persons who are likely to have been infected by the virus.?? She indicated at this time not all persons presenting to their doctor with flu-like symptoms would be swabbed for confirmatory testing.

This, Dr. St. John stressed, was in keeping with a worldwide policy of performing confirmatory tests on only specific persons presenting with symptoms, once it has been clearly established that there is widespread, in- country transmission of the H1N1 virus.?? In Barbados for the past several weeks, surveillance has confirmed that Influenza A(H1N1) is the predominant flu virus circulating.

Dr. St. John issued a reminder to members of the public that they should continue to practice general hygiene measures.?? These include frequent hand washing and covering of nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing.?? She emphasised that those persons who were experiencing fever, cough or sore throat should stay away from school or work until they were fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.??

Such persons should seek medical attention if their symptoms were prolonged or worsened and if they fell into high risk categories, so that the appropriate treatment could be obtained.??

She further advised that persons seeking medical attention could visit their doctors’ office or clinic and should inform the staff of the health facility of their symptoms on arrival. Persons should note that they could be required to wear a mask or sit in a separate area of the doctor’s office or clinic in order to reduce the risk of passing on the virus to other patients.

Dr. St. John concluded by stating that with the return of students to school for the new school year, the Ministry of Health had also issued updated guidelines for daycare facilities and schools. These guidelines were available on the website of the Government Information Service at ??http://www.gisbarbados.gov.bb/.

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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