The Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) has reported that all the specimens sent by regional countries to be tested for swine flu–which is now being referred to as influenza A (H1N1)—have all tested negative for the virus. “There have been no confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) in any CAREC member countries. Specimens are being received from possible suspected cases. Thus far all tests have been negative for influenza A (H1N1),” the Trinidad-based centre said on its website over the weekend.
Barbados, Belize, Grenada and St Lucia had all sent samples off to CAREC for preliminary testing. Specimens are sent off to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if CAREC’s initial tests do not rule out the virus. The governments of all Caribbean territories continue to reassure the public that all necessary measures are being taken to protect them from the virus. The Jamaican Ministry of Health, for example, is continuing its vigilance and has stepped up its surveillance and monitoring of all persons coming through their ports. They have also been undertaking ongoing testing of samples and reassuring the public that if any such cases are found, they will be notified.
A few other Caribbean countries had quarantined persons who recently returned home from Mexico, where the virus was first identified, but those persons have also been cleared. The government of the Bahamas announced yesterday that the results of those persons who were recently tested and placed under voluntary isolation by the Ministry of Health following their return from countries with confirmed cases of the swine flu have proven negative. “In fact, all persons who were being monitored are doing well. I am pleased with the ongoing efforts of our surveillance teams and the Department of Public Health continues to respond to questions and concerns from the public,” said Dr. Minnis on Friday during his last update in the capital. A group of 16 Bahamians–10 students, two teachers and four chaperones–from the island of Abaco who had traveled to Mexico on April 10th had been quarantined. In addition, several members of a soccer team that departed the capital for Mexico on Monday, April 27 were also subject to quarantined. A resident in New Providence who had recently returned from a trip to Mexico who reported flu-like symptoms to a local clinic was also placed in voluntary isolation. All of these tests came back negative.
The health minister told members of the press that his ministry will continue to work with all of its health partners to closely monitor the situation and to access appropriate doses of anti-viral drugs as well as Tamiflu and Relenza, which are used to treat the flu-like symptoms. “The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the spread of this disease and its emergency operations center remains active and meets daily,” Dr. Minnis said.