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Swine Flu Death Rings Alarm Bell In Guyana


           Guyana’s Dr. George Norton

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Ministry of Public Health has received confirmation that a Guyanese patient who was hospitalized after displaying symptoms of swine flu has been infected with the H1N1 virus which causes the disease.

The patient who was being treated at a private hospital has since been transferred by his family to a facility overseas.

Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton says the 50-year-old patient who had returned to Guyana from China, developed the symptoms within a two-week period, and was admitted to a private city hospital, but was later transferred to another private medical institution.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Laboratory in Trinidad returned the results last week, following which the measures were taken to vaccinate members of staff who were treating the man.

“We will be monitoring close relatives and persons who would have come in contact with him, but, at this point, there is no need for screening…” Persaud explained.

The health minister said while this is not good news for Guyana, there is no need to panic, as medical institutions are prepared to deal with such occurrences.

Among the symptoms for H1N1 are chills, fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue, and diarrhea.
The Public Health Ministry has been monitoring the situation over the last 12 months, and has not detected any other H1N1 case in Guyana.

Persaud says the Public Health Ministry has had an active disease surveillance system in place, particularly at the main ports in Guyana – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and the Ogle International Airport.

In dealing with the H1N1 virus and any other types of influenza, the Public Health Ministry has been using the “Keep Ebola and other Infectious Disease out of Guyana Strategy”, by implementing precautionary measures. That strategy focuses on six main areas: coordination and control; rapid detection, isolation and risk reduction; points of entry; clinical management; laboratory diagnosis; and information, education and communication.

“So we monitor all incoming flights, and what is mandatorily required is that the flight attendants provide, upon arrival of every commercial flight, general flight declaration. A significant part of that flight declaration is a health declaration for them to provide (information on whether) there was any sick patient on board, if there was coughing, or if any of the passengers would have experienced fever,” the CMO explained.

It was further also pointed out that the Ministry has decided to boost its medical team operating at CJIA Medical Center.

There were 29 reported cases of swine flu and three swine flu-related deaths in neighboring Trinidad and Tobago in 2015.


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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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