Barbadians and local residents have been reminded that good hygiene practices are the best defense mechanisms, in reducing the spread of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus.
According to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, persons are encouraged to carry out a combination of respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing to eliminate all possible exposure to influenza.
The guidelines on respiratory etiquette stipulate that persons should cover their noses and mouths with tissues when coughing or sneezing, before disposing of them in garbage bins immediately after use. Individuals should then complete these actions by washing their hands with soap and water, for further sterilisation.
The Ministry of Health has not only advised persons to wash their hands, but to do so effectively with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can also be used to clean hands; and individuals are reminded to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth even after cleansing.
Civilians should avoid close contact with persons who have flu- like symptoms such as fever, cough, persistent sneezing and sore throat. It is recommended that
individuals keep at least six feet away from infected persons, thus limiting the spread of bacteria through personal contact such as shaking hands, hugging and kissing.
It is mandatory that persons refrain from spitting on the ground as well.
In addition, members of the public should familiarise themselves with the symptoms of influenza, so they could seek medical attention if necessary.
Warning signs for adults include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness and confusion, as well as severe or persistent vomiting.
Emergency warning signs for children are fast breathing or difficulty breathing, reduced urge for water or other fluids, decrease in interaction or lethargy, small children being so irritable that they don’t want to be held, and vomiting or diarrhoea.
Persons with any of the symptoms identified should stay away from work, public places and mass gatherings for seven days after the symptoms start, or 24 hours after the symptoms clear, and they should seek medical advice.