Caribbean Nations Respond to Swine Flu Emergency

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Although no cases of swine flu have been reported in the Caribbean, health organizations have responded aggressively to protect local populations from a possible epidemic. Across the region there has been a variety of responses to the global situation, but all focus on reassuring the local population that all is being done to prevent contagion and deal effectively and quickly with any reported cases. These responses range from that of Cuba, which is curtailing flights to and from Mexico “as one of its measures to prevent an outbreak of swine flu on the island nation” to St. Kitts and Nevis, where “personnel and supplies have been mobilised and placed on an advanced stage of readiness.” We have gathered below links to specific reports on measures taken by a number of islands on how they are preparing for the possibility of cases of the virus in their territories.

Meanwhile, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Ghandi, the Caribbean Program Coordinator at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), told the Caribbean Media Corporation there is good reason for concern in the region: “The laboratories have confirmed this is a virus which we have not been exposed to before… this is a fairly new flu virus with exactly the same symptoms as other types of flu…but most people in the world would not have been exposed and therefore have little immunity for this type of virus and that is what is causing the concern.” She is concerned primarily about the possibility of rapid spread throughout the region and could especially affect the elderly and children, who would be most vulnerable. “It can, of course, spread very quickly and infect a number of people at the same time and has the potential for rapid spread throughout all our countries. That is why we are so concerned about it.” Theodore-Ghandi, however, is confident that Caribbean countries have the capability to handle a potential outbreak because they have been working for 18 months on plans to deal with a flu pandemic. “We had recognized some years ago, that there was the potential risk of pandemic influenza and since that time we have not stopped working with countries in developing their plans in terms of surveillance and in terms of the health system will respond if we have a dramatic increase in the number of cases of flu,” she explained.

Health authorities across the region-as you will see from the links below–are assessing their individual preparations for a possible outbreak occurred and actively screening passengers arriving from countries where Swine Flu cases have been confirmed.

For local responses go to

Barbados: http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=local&NewsID=3300

Cuba: http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKN27367775

Dominican Republic http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2009/4/27/31816/Dominican-Republics-ports-airports-brace-for-swine-flu

Jamaica: http://www.radiojamaica.com/content/view/17459/26/

St. Kitts and Nevis: http://www.cuopm.com/newsitem.asp?articlenumber=698&post200803=true

Jamaica and Trinidad: http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-16042–42-42–.html

St. Thomas and U.S. Virgin Islands: http://www.onepaper.com/stthomasvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1223617773

For the report on AllVoices.com from which we quote above go to http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/3087328-caribbean-ready-to-deal-with-swine-flu

The image above can be seen in its original http://johnfenzel.typepad.com/john_fenzels_blog/2007/04/index.html

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