The Ministry of Health is advising the public to pay special attention to water safety and personal hygiene in the wake of the flooding and it has announced that an Emer-gency Medical Response Team has been established to address any public health threats.
“If you are living in flooded areas, stay out of the water as much as possible, as it can greatly reduce your chances of contracting diseases such as skin infections, leptospirosis, diarrhoeal diseases and other water–borne diseases,” the advisory said.
Parents/guardians are urged to keep children out of the water and to use protective foot wear such as long boots, when venturing outdoors into flood waters. “Prepare a foot bath of ½ cup of bleach to one bucket of water and wash your feet before entering the house, then apply Vaseline or oil to your skin as it forms a barrier and provides some protection from the dirty water,” the statement said.
The ministry also notes that the heavy rainfall will cause an increase in the prevalence of mosquitoes and advised the public to protect themselves from bites by sleeping under nets and by using mosquito repellents and coils. Water and other storage containers, and garbage bins should also be covered to reduce breeding sites.
Use safe water for drinking, cooking, making beverages and brushing teeth. Safe water is water treated with bleach (PUR, Cholorosl) or boiled or bottled water. Keep all food items and drinking water in sealed containers, protected from flood waters. Any food that has been in contact with flood waters should be thrown out. All fruits and vegetables should be washed with treated water before consuming. “Cook food thoroughly,” the ministry said.
“Wash hands thoroughly with soap and safe water or use hand sanitizers, especially before and after eating meals, after going to the toilet or latrine and taking care of the children….Dispose [of babies’] diapers properly. Do not mess or let [faeces] get into the water,” the advisory said.
The ministry also advises the public should look out for animals that may have been displaced. “Snakes and centipedes that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or a stick to poke and turn items over and scare them away,” the press release said.
Also, homes that have been flooded may have sustained electrical wiring damage. Residents are advised to have wires checked by a qualified electrician and to know the location of main electrical breakers, gas and water valves and to ensure a path is clear to access them in an emergency. “Turn off the main electrical switch and other utilities,” the advisory said. Put important documents and valuables in plastic and store them in a safe place.
In case of illness, visit the Georgetown Public hospital or the nearest health centre. All health centres have been equipped to respond and treat any person displaying symptoms of water-borne or other diseases. The ministry has also ensured that there is adequate supply of Oral Rehydration Salts, bleach and chlorine tablets as needed, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Two outreach teams have also been mobilised to serve the Albouystown and Festival City communities until the flood is over. The team was organised during a meeting with health officials, including Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran, Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud, Director, Regional Health Services, Dr Monica Odwin, CEO, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Michael Khan and Civil Defence Commission representative Major Kester Craig. The team is also liaising with other key stakeholders such as the Mayor and City Council, government health facilities and pharmaceutical warehouses.