29 confirmed cases of swine flu in T&T for year, three deaths

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, yesterday, shared this information in an attempt to clear the air on what he said was “misinformation” in the public sphere.

Deyalsingh held the first of what is to be a weekly media conference on health issues at the ministry’s Park Street, Port-of-Spain, head office, yesterday morning.

“We are not in a crisis as far as H1N1 is concerned,” Deyalsingh said.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, left, holds a biological mosquito trap as entomologist Rajesh Ragoo, centre, explains how it works, while Chief Medical Officer Dr Clive Tilluckdharry looks on, during a media conference at the Ministry of Health, Park Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, left, holds a biological mosquito trap as entomologist Rajesh Ragoo, centre, explains how it works, while Chief Medical Officer Dr Clive Tilluckdharry looks on, during a media conference at the Ministry of Health, Park Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

He said two of the three deaths were as a result of patients with co-morbidities such as diabetes.

The other death was a patient who had a kidney transplant and whose immunity had been severely compromised.

He defined the at-risk groups for the virus as healthcare workers, children, pregnant women and the elderly.

He said despite these being the at-risk groups, the majority of confirmed cases were people between the ages of 20 and 64.

The cases have been found in St George West, St Andrew, St David and Naparima/ Mayaro.

Deyalsingh also commented on the front page story of a daily newspaper today which reported an H1N1 scare at the Sangre Grande hospital.

The report said nurses and patients were scared, with some patients discharging themselves from the hospital to avoid contact with the man rumoured to have the virus.

The Sangre Grande hospital has no isolation area.

Deyalsingh denied that the case in Sangre Grande had been confirmed as an H1N1 case and said the diagnosis so far was viral pneumonia.

He said workers were given full PPE gear to wear and had been provided with vaccines.

“The problem is that not all healthcare workers are willing to take the vaccines.”

Asked why healthcare workers were refusing the vaccine, Chief Medical Officer Dr Clive Tilluckdharry said he did not know.

He gave assurances that there were enough vaccines and antiviral treatments for the at-risk groups in the country.

The ministry had procured 20,000 doses of vaccine but 80 per cent have been used.

The country currently has 3,500 adult vaccines and 4,000 children vaccines.

The ministry has also placed an order with the Pan American Health Organisation for 20,000 additional vaccines.

Deyalsingh also cautioned parents of asthmatic children or anyone taking steroid treatments to visit their nearest health centre to access the vaccine as these people fell within the at-risk groups. Steroids reduce the activity of the immune system.

Flashback

In October, former health minister Dr Fuad Khan called on citizens to be cautious as there was a resurgence of the virus in India and parts of South Asia, which share close ties with T&T.

He noted the 2009 pandemic in which 14,286 confirmed deaths were reported and called on local authorities to put the proper measures in place.

Khan’s call followed the death of a Siparia woman, Cherrie Ryce, that same month as a result of H1N1 at the San Fernando General Hospital.

The death was brought to the attention of the media by concerned relatives.

In October, the Caribbean Public Health Agency said it had received 284 samples for influenza virus testing, of which 47 tested positive while 14 were typed as Influenza-A H1N1.

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