Following on last week’s announcement that this country had recorded its first case of A (H1N1) influenza, the Ministry of Health disclosed today that Barbados now had another confirmed case of the virus.

Acting Health Minister, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, while giving a "commitment by the Ministry to provide bi-weekly updates on the A (H1N1) Influenza situation here, from now on," said?? tests carried out on sample swabs taken from a young female, who had exhibited?? flu-like symptoms, had indeed proved positive for the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

She revealed that the individual, who is unrelated to the first case, but who, like the first confirmed person, did not have a travel history, was now under home isolation and is being monitored by health personnel. She explained that Barbados has been preparing for this eventuality for some time, and therefore the incidences have not taken the Ministry of Health by surprise.

Over the past month some 2400 Barbadians of all sectors received training from the Ministry in preparation for the advent of the A H1N1 virus.

The latest World Health Organisation update of May 5 states that 69 countries have reported some 21,940 of cases worldwide.????

Influenza A H1N1 is caused by a newly identified virus and was first brought to the attention of the global community in April of this year.??

Senator Sandiford-Garner reiterated that the illness could be easily spread from one person to another "so we must all take the necessary precautions to limit its increase.??????

"The key to containing it is by practising good, basic hygiene and we must view this as our civic duty," she stressed.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, has reminded members of the public of the precautionary measures they should take to minimize the chances of contracting the virus. "Keep disposable tissue handy, so that you can cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.?? Used tissue should be discarded in a covered garbage can or placed in a plastic bag. Frequent and proper hand washing is essential and we should avoid touching our eyes, nose or mouth as germs can enter our body this way," she emphasised.

The flu-like symptoms include high fever, head and body aches, sore throat, runny nose, cough, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dr. St. John has urged any person who has been experiencing flu-like symptoms to "avoid being out in the public and stay away from work or school. Sick children must not be sent to day care, so alternate arrangements should be made. If the symptoms are mild, over-the-counter medicines such as panadol/Tylenol/paracetamol may be used for relief from pain and fever. ??Aspirin or non-steroidal painkillers should not be used. Persons should also drink adequate amounts of fluids, and rest."

She further observed, "If the symptoms worsen or are severe; if you are pregnant, very young or old; or suffer with certain chronic conditions, e.g. asthma, heart disease or cancer; you should seek the advice of a health care professional as soon as possible."??

The CMO has strongly advised "those persons seeking health care for flu-like symptoms to call ahead to notify their health care provider. Upon arrival at the clinic or the doctor’s office, they should immediately inform the first staff member of their condition." She said such individuals "must carefully follow instructions for seating or other arrangements which may have been put in place to limit their contact with other patients.?? Ill persons may be asked to wear a mask while in the health-care facility and when going out in public," she recommended.

Additional information on A (H1N1) Influenza and the precautionary measures the public should adopt may be obtained by calling the Ministry of Health’s Hotline at 436-2437 OR 436-2444. ??The Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) is also airing a number of public service announcements that address this health matter.

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