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Jan 15, 2014

Ministry speaks on easy practices to prevent spread of influenza

Michael Pitts

It is well known that prevention is better than cure. The ministry says that easy practices and good hygiene such as the covering of mouths when coughing can assist to prevent the spread of the influenza. But the ministry stresses that if after seventy-two hours with symptoms and no signs of recovery, persons must seek medical assistance. Director of Medical Services, Doctor Michael Pitts, says that the ministry has Tamiflu and vaccines to make available to the public.


Dr. Michael Pitts, Director of Health Services

“What we note is that with flu-like illness that people present with symptoms early and generally after three days or so, they should start to improve. So what we are saying to the public is that if after three days you are not improving, please make it a point to go to your doctor wherever you are because perhaps there is where we can interact best with you. Of course with the general population—what we have doing over the years—is to offer vaccination to segments of the population. The message to the public is one: we are in the flu season. What are the symptoms and what are the dos and don’ts…the basics. For example, if I have my child at home and having signs of flu, I wouldn’t send that person to school. If I’m an employer and I have employees at work with symptoms, I would recommend that they stay home. In the technical jargon, we call that social distancing. There are other things, unique situations that people may not be able to stay home, so we are recommending that you pay attention…what we call the cough etiquette. The reflex pattern when you cough is to put your hands over the face. We are trying to recommend that you cough in your sleeve.  For the healthcare system, at the narrow end of the funnel, we have heightened surveillance. So at the district/towns, we are saying to our surveillance team, look for cases with influenza. And we have two approaches. For those that have severe illness, we are doing testing on all of them to determine what is the subtype. For those that have mild illness, we are doing some sampling, some systematic sampling of those cases. Over last year, we were able to issue out, we had about nine thousand dosage of vaccines in the system to give out and that was what we had estimated would be the demand. I could tell you for this year, we have a similar approach in terms of vaccine and we have a vaccine that covers three subtypes of viruses. So two of the subtypes in A and one in the B subtype and as we speak, we have been issuing those out. In addition, I will tell you that we do have tamiflu available in the healthcare system so that we can give people once we can recognize that there is a need for tamiflu.”

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