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#341049 - 06/12/09 03:02 PM H1N1 News
Marty Online   happy
Cruise ship quarantines six crew members for flu

On the day that a H1N1 pandemic was declared by the W.H.O., alarm bells sounded when a cruise ship that docked at the Belize City port advised that crew members were quarantined on board. Passengers came on shore only after a visit by Health authorities. Jose Sanchez at the Tourism Village and has this report.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Three cruise ships made their port of call in Belize today with over 9,000 combined. Visitors from two ships disembarked as scheduled, but instead of passengers coming off the Enchantment of the Seas, a team of inspectors headed by a Medical Epidemiologist and Public Health inspectors went onboard.

Dr. Paul Edwards, Focal Point Pandemic Influenza
“There was a report of some crew members who were isolated. Our investigation revealed there were some crew members who were identified with Influenza Type A. I want to make it clear that is the initial screening. We do not know if it is H1N1. Only further screening will provide those results. But the fact that these individuals had presented with Influenza A, they were medically examined before and they initiated treatment with Tamiflu.”

The ship carried approximately 2,500 tourists, and after 11:00 a.m. the first set of passengers disembarked the tenders at the Fort Street Tourist Village. Few of the passengers knew of any concern on board.

Dr. Paul Edwards, Focal Point Pandemic Influenza
“So our investigation resulted in the fact that these individuals had absolutely no contact with the passengers who were onboard and therefore there was no risks for those individuals to come off the cruise ships as well as there was no risk inevitably then to our Belizean populace. We were told as part of the investigation that these individuals presented signs and symptoms before it actually left from the United States and they were under treatment. So I would concur that they acted very responsibly in relation to what arose.”

Many of the excursions planned from the Enchantment were cancelled due to the delay and tour operators were quick to book new ones.

Tom Greenwood, Guide, Major Tom and the Fun Team
“Finally after a delay of about almost four and a half hours ships passengers were allowed to come ashore.”

Jose Sanchez
“Does this affect the way you operate? Are you going to be up close and personal with your guests?”

Tom Greenwood
“Oh, well, yes, what we do in circumstances like this, we have all the precautions in place including the typical hand wash and those things. The windows opened, hand wash. We look out ourselves. If we see anybody that remotely looked the way we don’t like, then we turn them back. I trust our Health officials and they’ve been pretty good in what they have been doing so far. I have good trust in them.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

=================

H1N1 forces temporary closure of Chetumal schools

The State of Quintana Roo has not yet reported any new confirmed cases of H1N1 flu since the first outbreak. But lately a number of persons have reported swine flu-like symptoms. While the results of tests are still not known, the threat of a pandemic has prompted the Health authorities in Quintana Roo to spring into action. News Five travelled to Chetumal today to find what’s happening. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali
“Although there have been no new cases of H1N1 since March of this year, there have been 153 new suspected cases in the Quintana Roo area. And because students have come down with the flu-like symptoms, schools such as Comodoro Manuel Azueta have closed their doors for the remainder of this week.”

Dr. Rafael Alpuche, Deputy Secretary of Health, Quintana Roo
“Last week, surveillance started on this state. We noted that there were new suspected cases in students. And as a result we decided to review epidemic conditions and to work closely with the Health authorities in the state. Actually, there we only saw the necessity to suggest the closure of three schools and a class was sent home. We only detected symptoms of the virus in three groups in the week alone.”

Dr. Rafael Alpuche is the Deputy Secretary of Health in the State of Quintana Roo. He says that while 3 schools have been closed, 11 others remain open but under close monitoring for anyone showing flu-like symptoms.

Dr. Rafael Alpuche
“Actually, in the state of Quintana Roo, we have 71 confirmed cases in the Influenza A (H1N1) since we were alerted in Mexico, since the 18th of March.”

However, while the trend is steadily going upward, Dr. Alpuche says the situation is under control and that Belizeans entering the State of Quintana Roo need not worry.

Dr. Rafael Alpuche
“It is safe, we don’t have any problems. You can come to Chetumal. We have practiced the necessary precautionary measures, there is no problem. You can travel to Mexico and here at Quintana Roo.”

Until the tests of the new suspected cases are in, News Five has learnt that at least 7 people with severe H1N1 symptoms have been admitted to hospitals and clinics and are being treated under quarantine. Meanwhile, the medical staff at these institutions are required to again wear their protective gear on the job. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

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#341051 - 06/12/09 03:07 PM Re: H1N1 News [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Public is urged to continue precautionary measures for flu

Earlier in the news cast we reported on the close call at the Tourism Village when crew members on a visiting cruise ship were kept in isolation because of flu-like symptoms. Doctor Paul Edwards urges the public to continue to exercise caution.

Dr. Paul Edwards, Focal Point Pandemic Influenza
“The type A H1N1 continues to increase around the world. I think today that the World Health Organization has reported twenty-eight thousand seven hundred and seventy-four confirmed cases. And because of that, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan has moved from phase five to phase six. So while that continues to happen outside of Belize because we still don’t have any confirmed case of Influenza Type A H1N1, we still need to be vigilant and alert. Our recommendations from the Ministry of Health, continue to be there when you talk about continue the hand washing practices, the cough etiquette in relation to sneezing and coughing in the sleeve of your shirt as such. And we continue to say that those individuals who present flu like symptoms, for them to access the healthcare system as soon as possible and also for those individuals who would present those flu symptoms, not to attend public gatherings. The increase from phase five to six is based on geographic distribution of the cases. That was done because we now see other countries in another region of the World Health Organization; the regions they have identified, and that was why Dr. Chan decided to move from a phase five to a phase six. But when we look at the actual severity of the disease, we are now convinced and we only now know this, that that information was not there from the very onset, that the signs and symptoms were basically mild and people fully recovered. We have seen unfortunately that people who have underlying conditions, for example cardiovascular disease, they have asthma, diabetes and even some pregnant mothers, unfortunately the severity was more and those individuals died. There are approximately a hundred and forty-four individuals who have died. But when you look at the amount of people who have been affected by this virus and those who have died, it is extremely small. That is what we call the fatality rate.”

The Ministry of Health continues its enhanced surveillance at health facilities and monitoring through the Health Information System. Doctor Edwards says that the ministry will keep updating the country on the situation and will continue with the public education campaign.

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