Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John

So far, there have been only three confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1).

That is the word from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John, as she spoke to the media today at a press conference at the Health Ministry’s Jemmott’s Lane headquarters.

Outlining the status of local cases to date, Dr. St. John said: "Since April 27 to present, there have been 46 suspected cases of Influenza A (H1N1), three suspected cases had been hospitalised (previously) and two cases are presently being hospitalised; but none of the three (who have been confirmed) has been hospitalised. All of the three have recovered well and remain well."

She added: "We have several preliminary results most of which do not indicate that the suspected cases are even Influenza A, which is the family to which seasonal influenza and the new H1N1 influenza appear, but these are screening tests and not confirmatory tests. We are awaiting confirmatory tests from CAREC. But to date, we have only had three positives who have all remained well and not needing hospitalisation."

According to the CMO, presently, there is limited transmission and outstanding results from CAREC will confirm if there is in-country transmission here. She noted that no confirmatory tests were yet available on 25 samples and indicated that the Ministry was awaiting those results. It was also pointed out that there was a need to clarify the whole issue of mild cases which the CMO said meant "that you do have flu symptoms but you do not require hospitalisation."

She also explained that certain persons might be susceptible to the disease.

"We have to also focus on looking out for those who are vulnerable, those with underlying conditions, like females who are pregnant, persons with certain chronic diseases – diabetes, heart disease, even obesity has been flagged by the WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, ??as?? an underlying condition of concern and anything that would affect the immune system.

So, we are making sure that our messages go out, we need to emphasise that the majority of persons are expected to have illnesses that do not need hospitalisation; but, we want to make those who have underlying conditions aware of the dangers so that they will seek attention appropriately and quickly," Dr. St. John said.

The CMO concluded: "We also need to make it clear to those who start off with mild symptoms that if they worsen that they must seek medical attention immediately. But, those numbers are expected to be a small percentage of the total."

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