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Hospital chairman wary of ZIKV impacting tourism product in St Ann

Published:Monday | August 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist
Melissa Johnson (left), of Beverly district in St Ann, who had earlier won a prize for doing the best 'mosquito dance', is seen teaching the moves to National Youth Service participants, much to the amusement of all who were present during a community meeting held in St Ann's Bay last Friday.

Chairman of the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital board, Michael Belnavis, is warning against the possible economic impact the Zika virus could have on Jamaica if it significantly impacts St Ann.

Speaking with The Gleaner during a community meeting in St Ann's Bay on Friday, Belnavis said he was in support of the anti-Zika drive, as the virus could have a negative effect on a wider scale than at a personal level.

"From the hospital perspective, we are concerned about the economic dislocation that it (Zika) can cause if the tourism sector gets a scare of the Zika virus and the costs associated with preventing the disease," Belnavis said.

He said that with the hospital already under strain for lack of space, an outbreak of the disease would serve only to put additional strain on the institution.

Belnavis is encouraging residents to take personal responsibility in helping to ensure the prevention of the Zika virus.

"My thing is to see how we can participate and really encourage people to take it personally and realise the economic threat that we are under as a country as it relates to our tourism product and the costs associated with the hospital," he said.

"If we prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, that goes a long way in helping the prevention of Zika."

Several persons turned out at the meeting to get information and to perform for prizes such as mosquito nets, rakes and other tools that can be used to help prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.

The meeting was organised by the North East Regional Health Authority, with support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund and Jamaica National.