Ministry Of Health Providing Updated Measures On Influenza A H1N1

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The Ministry of Health has issued updated guidelines for day care facilities and schools, in light of the ongoing influenza A (H1N1) 2009 epidemic and the potential for its spread during the coming academic term.??

According to Chief Medical Officer (ag.) Dr. Anton Best, "the surveillance of the Ministry of Health has confirmed the Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus as the predominant influenza virus which is circulating in Barbados at present". He added: "This means that most persons who develop ???flu like’ symptoms such as a fever with cough or sore throat at this time, are likely to be infected with the pandemic virus".

However, Dr. Best noted that for the majority of infected persons, symptoms would be mild. He explained that this means that they are likely to recover with the normal self-care measures that persons would undertake with any type of flu, and even without medical intervention, in three to five days.??

The Acting Chief Medical Officer cautioned that high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, children under six months of age and people with underlying medical conditions such heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other lung conditions, and those with weakened immune systems were at a greater risk of severe illness and should therefore visit their doctor or clinic promptly, if they experience flu-like symptoms, so that appropriate treatment could be provided.

Dr. Best advised that since Influenza A (H1N1) is at this time mainly a mild disease, the Ministry of Health was not currently anticipating a need to institute school closures as a containment measure. He however, stated that the greater concern was about the possibility of large numbers of staff and students becoming ill at the same time as this could be potentially disruptive.

The Health official reminded persons who were ill to remain at home. He stressed that everyone should practise good hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and covering of the nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing.

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