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Ready to handle H1N1

Lisa King

Ready to handle H1N1

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John says Barbados is well prepared to deal with any outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) 2009.
She gave this assurance yesterday in response to the warning of a possible outbreak of (H1N1) issued by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) late last month. Against the backdrop of sporadic outbreaks reported in countries in the Americas since the beginning of this year, CAREC recommended that Caribbean countries reactivate their national preparedness plans for the pandemic.
The Chief Medical Officer explained that Barbados did not have an alarming number of reported cases of the illness but if that situation arose measures would be put in place to deal with it. St John said Barbados had an ongoing comprehensive influenza surveillance system that was strengthened by the past H1N1 outbreak.
“So all the time we have been monitoring through getting tests from the public primary care sector, from Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic, the Accident and Emergency, [and] also from the tests done on persons who come in with influenza symptoms who are admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”
In addition, the ministry had kept up surveillance at the ports of entry, she said, and maintained good communication with cruise ships, with the ships sending their medical records ahead of time.   
Special reporting protocols have also been sent out to key stakeholders including the University of the West Indies and, if necessary, will be sent to nursing homes and schools.