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There has been an increase in cases of respiratory illnesses in Barbados in the private and public sectors from the beginning of September until now.

Word of this has come from Senior Medical Officer of Health (North), Dr. Leslie Rollock, who said the numbers were greater than those seen for the corresponding period in 2018.

“For the subset of cases tested, the dominant causative organism identified was the rhinovirus, or common cold virus, with sporadic cases of the flu viruses that circulate in Barbados,” Dr. Rollock explained.

She noted that Barbados’ flu season usually starts in the latter half of October and suggested that persons with asthma, diabetes, or other NCDs who are at risk of severe illness from the virus, should, as in previous years, ask their doctor about receiving the flu vaccine.

Dr. Rollock reminded citizens to continue practising good hand 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 sanitizer is recommended. 

“Persons are also advised to keep unwashed hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth; and avoid touching these areas as germs can enter the body this way.   Those who are ill should cover the nose and mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing,” she advised.

Dr. Rollock added that used tissues should be disposed of in a bin or in a tied plastic bag and hand hygiene performed before handling anything else. Alternatively, she stated, persons could cough or sneeze into the inner side of the elbow.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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