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SVG officials take precautions against the deadly Swine Flu

SVG officials take precautions against the deadly Swine Flu

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The medical supplies needed to deal with any outbreak of the deadly swine flu here will be in place, the local medical hierarchy has assured the public.{{more}}

Medical Officer of Health Dr Roger Duncan said last Tuesday, April 28th, that contact has already been made with regional suppliers to get extra medication and medical supplies, once the need arises.

Duncan, along with other medical top brass, including Epidemiologist Dr Jennifer George, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr St Clair Thomas, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Kathy-Ann Hackshaw, Medical Director Dr Simone Keizer and Chief Nursing Officer Audrey Scott-Gilkes spoke at a press conference to update the country about what has been done and what is being put in place, since this country’s National Influenza Pandemic Preparedness task force was activated.

Dr Keizer said that additional supplies, including disposable gloves and facemasks, have already been ordered to deal with any eventuality.

Acting Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker, who was also acting as Minister of Health in the absence of Dr Douglas Slater, said that on Saturday, April 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the swine flu has emerged as a health concern of international proportions.

Countries were encouraged to take precautions and to “increase surveillance to detect unusual outbreaks of influenza-like symptoms.”

The officials said that active surveillance will continue so as to spot, isolate and treat any suspected case of the virus.

Six public health nurses have been deployed at the E.T. Joshua Airport and the Northern and Southern Grenadines to enforce surveillance efforts.

Even though persons are being encouraged not to panic if they get a cold, the health system is bracing for any panic that may set in. Dr Keizer said that extra staff will be deployed at the Accident and Emergency department of the hospital when deemed necessary, and the staff is being sensitized as to how to deal with persons who may flock to the hospital or health centres.

However, over the coming weeks, the public will be educated about what signs to look for to determine if they have reason for concern. “Our main defence will be education,” Dr Keizer said, adding that it is hoped that once people know what to look for, it will reduce the possibility of panic setting in.

Both Dr Duncan and Sir Louis advised against travel to countries that have been affected by the virus, but said it was too early to put any official restriction on travel into or out of the country.

“Our advice now to the nation…is that unless it is absolutely essential, you avoid travel to areas that are affected,” Dr Duncan said.

While word of over 100 deaths due to the virus has saturated the media, Dr Thomas told the nation that most of the people who are infected with the virus will recover.

He said that problem is when the virus spreads to the lungs and interferes with the victim’s breathing.

He said that virus can be traced back to around 1918, when there was a massive outbreak at the end of World War I.

As for this outbreak, the first recorded case was in La Gloria, Veracruz, Mexico, April 2, when a boy was diagnosed.

But signs of the outbreak started to be noticed in March.

At press time, Tuesday, April 28th, Mexico had close to 160 suspected deaths as a result of swine flu, and cases of infections were being recorded in the United States (about 65), Canada (about 15), and parts of Europe, South America, among other places.

Mexico City is said to be losing US$57 million per day, as the city has become a ghost town.

St Vincent and the Grenadines has 51 university students studying in various parts of Mexico.

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