St Vincent confirms six cases of H1N1 but no need to panic says PM

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Tuesday October 1, 2013, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has sought to assure nationals that there is no reason to panic as six cases of swine flu have been confirmed in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I have been asked to assure everyone that matters are under control. We have the antiviral treatment in the country, 3,000 tablets and we can source additional stock from PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and that stock is available to us to get very quickly,” said Gonsalves, who is acting Minister of Health.

“Not everyone will meet the criteria of treatment but it depends on the clinical criteria of the physician in relation to this particular matter,” Gonsalves said.

He said reports from the Ministry of Health show that of 51 cases of the suspected illness, only six cases have been confirmed as H1N1, commonly called swine flu.

Gonsalves said an initial 11 swabs were sent to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CAPHA) last month and the results received confirmed six chases of H1N1.

He said St. Vincent and the Grenadines had informed PAHO of the results and it responded on September 25.

“There was a routine surveillance meeting on September 27 and it highlighted a need to develop and implement a national public relations strategy to raise public awareness,” Gonsalves said, adding “there is a document which they have sent to me as the acting minister, outlining what they are doing as from today so that people don’t have to panic about this matter”.

“Over the weekend, there were only two suspected cases reported, hence as of today, as I speak to you, there were a total of 51 cases reported but only six were confirmed as H1N1. Since then, more samples have been taken and sent and we are awaiting the results.”

Gonsalves urged people to practice proper hygiene, including covering the mouth and nose with a kerchief or napkin when sneezing, proper disposals of spent kerchiefs of napkins, and frequent washing of hands with soap and running water.

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