Ministries seeking to protect schools from chikungunya
Representatives of the ministries of health and education are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to explore and develop strategies to prevent any possible threat of a spread which the chikungunya virus could pose for schools currently preparing for September's start of the 2014-2015 academic year.
In noting that the education ministry deems the virus a "major threat" to schools, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said the meeting would be aimed at facilitating discussions on how best to deal with the situation.
"(The) meeting is scheduled for...us to be able to issue clear directives to all our principals in all schools," he said, while speaking at the Ministry's Region Three office back-to-school conference at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann, last Friday.
Thwaites advised that all matters, including information available at medical facilities that have dealt with chikungunya cases, will be taken into consideration during the discussion.
10 confirmed cases
A health ministry update, issued on Friday, indicates that the number of confirmed chikungunya virus cases in Jamaica had increased to 10. The advisory stated that eight of the cases were contracted from local transmission, with the others were imported.
The affected parishes remain St Thomas, St Catherine, St Ann, Kingston and St Andrew.
Chikungunya is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is generally found in and around places inhabited by people. Symptoms of infection include: joint pain and high fever.
The ministry encouraged persons to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent containing DEET; covering their bodies as much as possible by wearing garments such as long-sleeved clothing, and putting mesh on doors and windows.
Persons are also urged to search for and destroy mosquito-breeding sites by getting rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle; punching holes in tins before disposing; and covering large drums, barrels, and tanks holding water.
For more information persons may contact the Ministry's Emergency Operations Centre at 1-888-663-5683 or 1-888-ONE-LOVE.
The Pan American Health Organization reports that, as at August 1, 31 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed local chikungunya transmission, and another 23 with imported cases.
To date, there have been more than 500,000 suspected cases reported in the Americas. Of this number, 4,736 have been confirmed as being locally transmitted, and 0 cases. Thirty-two deaths have, thus far, been reported.