Local summer camp directors are being asked to consider and follow a set of Guidelines on Influenza A (H1N1) which were issued recently to assist them coping with any suspected cases of the illness.

This advice comes from officials of the Ministry of Health, who have asked that directors and their staff become familiar with its Pandemic Influenza Guidelines for Child Care Providers.

The guidelines do not guarantee that individuals will not contract the illness, but the programme managers, coordinators and directors will be aware of the required actions necessary for coping with any suspected case.??

Parents and guardians have been reminded to check their children daily for signs of illness and to keep them at home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms that include coughing, or fever with sore throat. Camp staff have also been advised to observe children for flu-like symptoms.

Ensuring that facilities are in place to adequately accommodate hand washing (including water, soap, paper towels, bins {preferably pedal bins}) is something on which camps have been asked to place high priority.?? Where hand washing facilities are not available, it is suggested that alcohol-based hand sanitizers be provided.

The guidelines also advise parents and guardians to provide campers with disposable tissue and to discourage the use of wash cloths, handkerchiefs and bandanas, for covering coughs and sneezes. "These trap viruses and germs. Viruses on these items can contaminate or soil hands and hence spread germs to other surfaces and people," says the Health Ministry.

Camp officials, who have all been trained in?? the correct procedures required for Influenza A (H1N1) prevention, are also encouraged to have daily talks reminding campers and staff of the need to consistently practise hand hygiene, cough etiquette and other general hygienic measures, including not sharing water bottles, food utensils, towels and other personal items.

Camp staff are asked to remind children that if they feel ill during the day they should report this to someone in charge; and if campers experience flu-like symptoms during the day, their parents and guardians should be notified as soon as possible. This means that officials should obtain at the time of registration the necessary contact information, including telephone numbers for home and work, where parents and guardians can be accessed.

Any camper who shows flu-like symptoms should be kept in a well ventilated room, well away from others and under observation. If the symptoms worsen, immediate medical attention must be sought.??

The Ministry of Health is also stressing that camp staff be reminded that if they experience influenza-like symptoms, including fever with a cough or sore throat, they should not report for duty. "Consider having a back-up plan for replacement of ill staff members," says the Health Ministry in its guidelines.

Meanwhile, as it relates to the physical setting of the camp, the Ministry of Health has advised that all camp directors should have a cleaning routine, which includes regular cleaning of frequently handled objects and surfaces such as door knobs, computer key boards, telephones and hand rails.

The Ministry of Health’s Pandemic Influenza Guidelines for Child Care Providers have been developed from those provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Further information on this and other guidelines put out recently by the Ministry may be had by visiting the Barbados Integrated Government Portal at http://www.gov.bb/ or Barbados Government Information Service website at https://www.gisbarbados.gov.bb/.


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