Trinidad Ministry on alert after three Swine Flu deaths

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

(Trinidad Guardian) The Health Min­istry is on high alert for cas­es of Swine Flu fol­low­ing the death of a third pa­tient from the dead­ly virus.

A state­ment from the South-West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty in re­sponse to the Guardian’s re­port on the death of a Tabaquite woman said “prop­er med­ical pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed” at the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal in treat­ing Nicole Seecha­ran.

“The SWRHA con­tin­ues to be on height­ened alert and sur­veil­lance for swine flu cas­es and has co­or­di­nat­ed all its fa­cil­i­ties to be ful­ly pre­pared for any fur­ther pres­ence of the dis­ease in the South-West Re­gion,” the state­ment said.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, Min­is­ter of Health Ter­rence Deyals­ingh said, “I’ve been mak­ing this call since No­vem­ber last year. I my­self took the in­fluen­za vac­cine to show how im­por­tant it is to get in­oc­u­lat­ed. The flu is not to be tak­ing light­ly, it is a dead­ly virus.”

In 2018, there were two in­fluen­za-re­lat­ed deaths for flu sea­son, Deyals­ingh con­firmed: “and that was de­spite an ag­gres­sive vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme by the Min­istry of Health.”

In prepa­ra­tion for the 2019 flu sea­son, the Health Min­istry brought in 75,000 dos­es of the in­fluen­za vac­cine, which can be re­quest­ed at health cen­tres free of charge.

“Some cit­i­zens have not been lis­ten­ing to my calls. Un­less there is an emer­gency we do not act. You can on­ly safe­guard your health by get­ting the flu vac­ci­na­tion shot,” Deyals­ingh said.In ear­ly Jan­u­ary, the South West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty (SWRHA) act­ing med­ical di­rec­tor, Dr Robin Sinanan, con­firmed there have been “a cou­ple of cas­es” of pa­tients con­tract­ing the H1N1 but as­sured steps were be­ing tak­en to treat with these pa­tients, in­clud­ing more ro­bust im­mu­niza­tion pro­grammes.

In re­la­tion to the Seecha­ran’s case, the SWRHA said the pro­to­cols, na­sopha­ryn­geal swabs to test for the In­fluen­za A (H1N1) “Swine Flu” were tak­en on De­cem­ber 10, 2018, and sent to the Trinidad and To­ba­go Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry.

“The lab­o­ra­to­ry re­sults were re­turned nine days lat­er. On re­ceipt of the re­sults, our sur­veil­lance team im­me­di­ate­ly con­tact­ed the rel­a­tives to dis­cuss the find­ings and pro­vide vac­ci­na­tions to the fam­i­ly,” the SWRHA said.

The SWRHA is urg­ing all cit­i­zens to prac­tice good hy­giene (wash­ing hands) and prop­er res­pi­ra­to­ry eti­quette (cov­er your mouth when you cough, sneeze, etc). Any per­son dis­play­ing flu-like symp­toms is urged to vis­it their doc­tor or health cen­tre im­me­di­ate­ly.

The Au­thor­i­ty re­mains com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing the spread of the dis­ease and en­cour­ages mem­bers of the pub­lic to vis­it any of our 31 Health Cen­tres and 3 Dis­trict Health Fa­cil­i­ties lo­cat­ed at Cou­va, Siparia or Princes Town to re­ceive the In­fluen­za vac­cine free of charge,” the state­ment said.

Fam­i­ly and friends of Nicole Seecha­ran who died last month of Swine Flu are ques­tion­ing why no one was told the truth sur­round­ing the na­ture of her death.

Seecha­ran, a 47-year-old taxi dri­ver of Tabaquite died on De­cem­ber 12, how­ev­er, a Guardian Me­dia ex­clu­sive re­vealed yes­ter­day that she died of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.

Rel­a­tives said med­ical of­fi­cials on­ly con­firmed Seecha­ran con­tract­ed the dead­ly H1N1 virus sev­er­al days af­ter her death.

Seecha­ran’s neigh­bour, Sharen Badal-Ahyew, one of the vil­lagers who took the in­fluen­za vac­cine fol­low­ing her death, re­mained baf­fled as to why they weren’t told the truth.

“I vis­it­ed her at the hos­pi­tal and did not know she had Swine Flu,” she said.

“Why did it take so long for the Min­istry to in­form fam­i­ly and vil­lagers about Nicole’s death? Why does it take so long to get the H1N1 blood test re­sults?”

Fol­low­ing the ar­ti­cle, over 50 vil­lagers head­ed to the Tabaquite Health Cen­tre to get the In­fluen­za shot yes­ter­day in an at­tempt to avoid Seecha­ran’s fate.

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