A second wave of the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak locally can only be known when there are confirmed cases of the disease.

This was revealed today by Senior Medical Officer of Health (SMOH), Dr. Karen Springer, as she fielded questions during a press conference at the Health Ministry that marked the launch of the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccination campaign.

Dr. Springer, who is also lead epidemiologist in the Ministry on Influenza A (H1N1), acknowledged that a confirmed case earlier this month, of an individual who fell into one of the high risk categories, and was hospitalised, could "possibly be the beginning of the second wave for this country".

While noting that for the period June to October 2009 the island had 155 confirmed cases, 62 of which were hospitalised, the SMOH said: "We haven’t had any cases since epidemiology week 42 or during the previous 10 weeks. This one confirmed case at the end of epidemiology week one (ending January 9, 2010), though we cannot readily say that it is… could be the start of a second wave."

Explaining that between waves there was usually a gap, Dr. Springer added, "We cannot really say a second wave has started until we have confirmed cases from CAREC."

She therefore urged high risk groups and frontline workers to come forward and get the Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine, Panenza, stressing that it was important that all persons continue to take the necessary precautions, outlined in the Ministry of Health’s guidelines issued last year.

Dr. Springer added that the Health Ministry would also continue its surveillance "monitoring the level of respiratory activity and the number of confirmed cases the country is recording."


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