The Ministry of Health has reported an increase in respiratory illnesses in November 2016 compared to November last year.

In a statement today, the Ministry noted: “For the subset of cases tested, the causative organism was not the flu virus but mostly Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

“Nevertheless, PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) has advised that the incidence of seasonal flu is starting to increase in North America and sporadic cases are also being seen in neighbouring islands.”

The Ministry has therefore reminded Barbadians to continue to practise good hygiene as this is the most effective way of reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses.

These practices include washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and drying them with disposable tissue. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is recommended.

Health officials also advised persons to keep unwashed hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth; and to generally avoid touching these areas as germs can enter the body this way.

The Ministry also reminded the public to cover the nose and mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing. Alternatively, persons should cough or sneeze into the inner side of the elbow. Used tissues should be discarded in a bin or a tied plastic bag.

As in prior years, persons at risk for severe illness from the seasonal flu virus are advised to ask their doctor about receiving the vaccine against seasonal flu. These include persons with asthma, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

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