less severe strain: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

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DENGUE STRIKES KAMLA

'No one is immune'

By Abby Brathwaite

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has contracted the dreaded dengue disease.

A statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday said Persad-Bissessar was diagnosed with dengue fever (classic type, which is the less severe strain).

"While I was consulting with the Minister of Health on how to enhance and intensify the education drive Government has embarked on to sensitise the population on the dengue fever, I became a victim of it myself," Persad-Bissessar said.

"This indicates that no one is immune from the dangerous disease, and it reinforces that the entire population must be extremely vigilant and take the necessary precautions to prevent contracting dengue, especially with children.

"Let me also emphasise the need to immediately seek professional medical attention if you have any symptoms of dengue (which include fever, body pains and headaches) since treating the disease as an ordinary flu can cause more medical problems," she added.

The Prime Minister has been advised that she can work from her home office while she continues to receive medical supervision.

She said, " I will continue to run the affairs of State unless otherwise advised by my doctors that it is not practical to do so. I wish to advise the population that despite my illness, I am following all medical instructions so as to ensure that I will soon be back on my feet and fully functioning."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fuad Khan is suggesting that Persad-Bissessar may have contracted dengue on Friday during her walkabout in Port of Spain.

"She was walking in Port of Spain on Friday. Now anything could have bitten her in Port of Spain. I know that it takes a couple days to show itself. We are going to scan the areas wherever it is she may have been, but most likely it might have been the walk in Port of Spain," Khan told the Express in a telephone interview.

He confirmed the area surrounding the Prime Minister's residence at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's and her Phillipine home in South Trinidad will be inspected by personnel from the Insect Vector Control Division of the Ministry of Health.

The area will also be sprayed if that is deemed necessary, he added.

The Prime Minister's illness comes weeks after Khan warned of a sudden increase in the number of people reporting to health institutions with dengue.

Official data from the Ministry of Health shows there were 204 cases of suspected dengue fever cases at health institutions in July, up from 155 cases in June. In August, there is every likelihood the numbers will continue to rise, Khan said.

He added, "More people are coming for tests; more people are having fever, and more people are coming to the institutions; so most likely the incidences will be higher, but I can't say what the exact numbers for August are so far.

"I doubt there has been a decline. It might be equal to June or July, or it might tip over a little because more people are coming in for tests, so there may be a little more push over the numbers."

The Ministry of Health, Communications, Local Government and Education have embarked on a multimedia education and sensitisation programme to combat the dengue outbreak on several fronts.

Minister of Local Government Chandresh Sharma is pleading with citizens to cooperate with the Government as it continues its campaign against dengue.

Sharma said, "You need the cooperation of people because if you live in Street A and the mosquito is travelling 400 metres, it means that even if your house is clean and your neighbour's house is clean, what happens if one house on the street is not clean?"

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