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Signs of community transmission of H1N1 virus in Saint Lucia

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Contact: Shannon Lebourne


Wednesday, August 5, 2009 – Health officials are beefing up their surveillance and public sensitisation on the dreaded HINI virus following signs of community transmission of the virus here in Saint Lucia.


The Ministry of Health has confirmed three new cases here, taking the total number of confirmed H1N1 cases to six so far, but officials do not know how one of the victims contracted the virus.


Speaking at a press conference to update the nation on the virus, Senior Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Frederick, confirmed that the victims include two children ages two years and five months and one adult age twenty. She also indicated that a tourist who tested positive for the virus has since left the island.


“We have one case where there is no travel history and that is significant for us because it means that there is community transmission of the virus. This person has since recovered fully. In trying to retrace what has happened, we cannot come up with a definite time when this person may have knowingly contracted the virus,” Dr Frederick said.


The Senior Medical Officer says the  H1N1 virus is expected to spread in Saint Lucia, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the virus cannot be controlled.


Dr. Frederick says at present Saint Lucia has adequate stocks of the Tamiflu medication and there is also a legitimate supplier of the medication locally.


“From day one, when this virus came on the scene, we told everybody it's going to come to Saint Lucia; it wasn't a matter of if, but when. Now that it is here, what we have to say is that it's going to spread, so we are trying to decrease the severity and the extent of the virus. We are advising people who have a cough or any flu like symptom to get checked by a medical practitioner,” added the Senior Medical Officer.


The World Health Organisation has reported that the virus has spread to over one hundred and fifty nine countries worldwide.  There have been seven deaths associated to the disease in the Caribbean and a total of one thousand deaths worldwide.

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