Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan addresses the media during a press briefing at the Ministry's Park Street office in Port of Spain today. Also at the briefing were Dr Avery Hinds, the Director of the National Surveillance Unit (centre) and Dr Clive Tilluckdharry, acting Chief Medical officer. PHOTO by AYANNA KINGSALE
Health Minister on H1N1 - No need to panic
...This story corrects an earlier Express article related to the H1N1 Influenza A virus, which quoted Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan stating that it was Bird Flu. The virus which has been detected locally is in fact, commonly known as Swine Flu
CAMILLE BETHEL firstname.lastname@example.org
MINISTER of Health Dr Fuad Khan said today that citizens should not panic in light of six confirmed cases of the H1N1, commonly known as or swine flu.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry of Health, Park Street, Port of Spain, early this morning Khan said "Yesterday we got the report that there were six confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza A virus in some of our patients.
“Now in order to decrease the level of panic that may set into this country as we see there are various headlines on it, I want to assure the public that this H1N1 is called Swine Flu, not Bird Flu. H1N5 is Bird Flu. (H1N1) has been around in Trinidad and Tobago since 2009. We have been having cases since 2009 so this is nothing new that is occurring at this time. I do believe what would have triggered the fear and concern was the neighbouring countries. Barbados has had I think one death as a result of the H1N1” he explained.
Khan said that of the confirmed cases, three patients are from the San Fernando General Hospital, one from the Mt Hope Hospital, and two from areas unknown.
Asked about reports that two persons, who were exhibiting the symptoms of H1N1, had died in Trinidad recently, Khan said "I can't answer you accurately but most likely".
Earlier, the Health Ministry today issued a statement advising that six cases of influenza A/H1N1 have been confirmed locally. The Ministry is advising citizens to take health precautions.
The following is the statement from the Ministry of Health -
The Ministry of Health has received information from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory of six (6) confirmed local cases of Influenza A/H1N1.
In light of these new confirmations, locally, along with increased influenza activity in the Caribbean region at this time, the Ministry wishes to assure the public that all systems for response to influenza cases are in place at our local institutions and advise that citizens follow the instructions given to them by medical professionals.
The Ministry would like to remind the public to practice good personal hygiene to protect themselves and others from acquiring the influenza (flu) virus. Regular hand-washing is important for your OWN protection and that of others.
Symptoms of the Influenza virus include:
· Sudden high fever (over 38°C or 100°F)
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Body aches
Persons experiencing Influenza-like symptoms and any signs of faintness, weakness or breathing difficulty should present immediately to the nearest Hospital Emergency Room for management.
Persons in high-risk groups experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek early medical attention. These groups include:
· Pregnant women
· Children under 2 years of age;
· Persons with respiratory complications like asthma and chronic lung disease;
· Persons with weakened immune systems including persons on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy for transplants or other medical conditions;
· Persons with chronic non-communicable diseases including diabetes;
· Persons 65 years and older;
HOW IS THE FLU SPREAD?
The main way influenza (flu) viruses are spread is through droplets released into the air from the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. This can happen when droplets are inhaled directly by people nearby. Some droplets containing the virus also fall on hard surfaces (like desks, tables, phones and door knobs). People pick up the virus when they touch these surfaces and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose.
Another common method of infection is by shaking hands with someone who has not maintained proper respiratory and hand hygiene, and failing to wash your own hands before touching your face (especially your nose).
When can an infected person spread the flu virus to others?
Infected persons can spread the flu virus from 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 days after symptoms appear. Children, especially younger children, can be contagious for much longer periods (10 – 14 days)
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