Guyana prepared to deal with H1N1 virus – Norton

With another reported death in neighbouring Trinidad, Minister of Health Dr George Norton yesterday assured that Guyana stands ready to treat any cases of the highly contagious H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as swine flu, along with three other viruses which have been affecting countries worldwide including Brazil.

He said during an interview with Stabroek News at his Brickdam office that a task force which had been set up is fully prepped, having been extensively trained and all the required medication to treat these four infectious virus are in stock.

Within recent months, there have been five reported deaths in Trinidad the last being at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope which occurred on Tuesday night. Medical Chief of Staff Dr Andy Bhagwandass told the Trinidad Guardian that he could not divulge much information on thepatient, claiming doctor/patient confidentiality as the reason. He added that a report about a mother who recently gave birth and is being treated for the virus will soon be given to him.

There have been cases of the deadly viral infection in several countries in the Caribbean over the years including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Barbados. In 2009, swine flu accounted for just over 14, 000 deaths worldwide. Of the 237 deaths in Central America and Caribbean region numbers show that the largest number of deaths occurred in the Dominican Republic followed by Jamaica.

“We definitely are concerned about that (swine flu). It is not only the swine flu but we have the zika flu next door in Brazil… and then the chikungunya has been around and of course the one we all have terror for, the Ebola”, Norton told Stabroek News.

The minister yesterday repeatedly assured that the public need not worry. He said that if Guyana had enough measures in place to safeguard against the killer virus Ebola, then “we would similarly have in place for the swine flu”.

Asked more about the measures in place, he alluded to trained medical personnel and adequate medication.

Asked if there is any collaboration with Trinidad with regards to swine flu, he said “not really except for the fact that the whole Caribbean are in the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)…we work in that area and CARPHA has got their linkage with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)”.

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