The virus is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito that also transmits dengue fever. Symptoms appear between four and seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may include fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus at this time.
Despite six confirmed cases of the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in Belmont, Port of Spain, and the growing concern of several residents, schools in the area will not be closed. This confirmation was given by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan yesterday when the Express contacted him via telephone. “There is no reason to close any schools; children need to be in school,” Khan said. In a report carried on TV6 on Tuesday, residents of Belmont expressed concern that empty lots and areas where water collected were contributing to the breeding of the aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits CHIKV as well as dengue fever. Khan assured that the Ministry of Health is working with the Port of Spain City Corporation to address these issues.
“We are speaking with the city corporation to clean up the lots, to clean up the roads and to clean up the drains, all the breeding grounds. At the same time we are going to spray the area in Belmont,” he said.
Khan assured that these measures would not be taken only in Belmont but throughout the country.
Yesterday several schools in the Belmont area reported normal operations.
The vice-principal of the Belmont Government Primary School and principal of the Belmont Secondary School both stated that operations at the schools have not been affected and there were no cases of the virus at their schools.
This comes on the heels of warnings by CARPHA executive director Dr James Hospedales that the Caribbean should brace for a “full impact” of the virus as almost all Caribbean countries have reported confirmed cases of the virus. The “full bloom” of the virus is yet to come, he said.
“There are a total of over 9,000 confirmed cases. There is an estimate in excess of 600,000 cases in total, most of those being from the bigger countries like the Dominican Republic and Haiti with 37 deaths in total.
“So it continues to spread, we will have an expert consultation next month to look at all the plans and also to see how we better inform and protect people and protect the economy of the region,” Dr Hospedales said in an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Hospedales said the meeting would allow experts to explore ways to better educate people about the virus and how to deal with the mosquitoes.
He advised persons to take measures to protect themselves such as cleaning their surroundings and destroying breeding grounds around their properties. He advised persons who have been infected to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in order to prevent spreading the virus to their loved ones.