Guyana’s Health Ministry issues safety tips to prevent H1N1

Swine flu in T&T

The Public Health Ministry of Guyana on Monday issued safety tips to prevent the spread of the highly contagious H1N1 virus, popularly known as swine flu, as neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago have already confirmed several cases of the deadly virus.
According to the Ministry, persons should practice good hygiene, which includes washing the hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based rubs. Persons are being encouraged to cover their mouths and noses with tissues when sneezing or coughing and to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth and avoid close contact with other individuals suffering from the H1N1 virus, which is about 6 feet away.
“Persons are being advised to drink plenty fluids, stay at home and rest, to treat the fever and see your primary care physician should they contract the virus. Health care workers are asked to ensure that they practice infection control and use personal protective equipment,” the Ministry in a statement said on Monday.
The common symptoms of the H1N1 virus vary from non-febrile mild upper respiratory tract infection to severe pneumonia. There can be a cough, fever, sore throat, malaise and headache and constitutional symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in 38 per cent of H1N1 cases.
Treatment for the virus includes supportive management in mild cases and may even lead to hospitalisation. There is also respiratory support, as well as anti-bacterial and anti-viral treatments. The two important classes of anti-viral medications available for treatment are the Neuraminidase inhibitors (Oseltamivir and Zanamivir) and Adamantane (Rimantadine and Amantadine), which should be given in the early stages preferably within 24 hours of diagnosis, the Ministry warned.
According to the Public Health Ministry, the Surveillance and Disease Control Department will continue to monitor the disease. In fact, persons who are suspected to be infected with the H1N1 virus will be taken to the Georgetown Public Health Corporation Lab to conduct blood tests to ascertain the presence of the virus.
Moreover, the Health Ministry said it will also be working with Port Health Officers at the country’s borders, as Guyana remains alert to ensure that there is quick surveillance and detention along with rapid responses to guard against the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings reassured that, “A technical multidisciplinary response which includes coordinators and managers of emergency responses has been identified to ensure that appropriate information is available to be disseminated to those who need to know in a timely manner. Challenges and lessons learnt from the pandemic in the Americas included the establishment of non-pharmaceutical measures, having a vaccination strategy and paying strict account of international health regulations are being taken into serious consideration”.
She further explained, “The idea is to prevent delays especially in Phases 5 and 6 of the influenza. Phase 1 to 3 predominantly dealing with animal infection and few human infections; Phase 4 where there is sustained human to human infections, and Phase 5 and 6 with widespread human infection”.
Just last week, <<<Guyana Times>>> reported that the necessary provisions are present in Guyana to tackle the issue, after speaking with Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud.
According to him, the situation is under control with provisions at arrival ports to monitor passenger activities.
He enunciated that ferry docks and arrival terminals at airports are equipped with a framework which is expected to be implemented on all passengers. This includes the flight declaration being appraised to indicate if such cases enter the country.
“We continue to maintain our port health requirement for all arriving flights and vessels. A person must do the general flight declaration which would give us a fair idea as to any sick person is coming in. Port health department would usually document those cases and follow them up so those provisions are in place,” said the CMO.
As of recent, Trinidad and Tobago reported ten cases of the virus, which is commonly known as the ‘swine flu’. In fact, one death has already been recorded as a result of the virus.
This confirmation came from the country’s Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh with a local news agency. He noted that out of the 75,000 H1N1 vaccines available, 14,500 people have been inoculated in the last few weeks.