200 cases of Zika in Spice country

Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele, has announced that there are 200 reported cases of Zika infections on the island.

Speaking to reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing Tuesday, he said that three persons are currently warded at the St. George’s General Hospital with Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS).

Minister Steele told reporters he feared that there are many more cases of the virus, as most are not being reported to local health officials.

“…We have over 200 confirmed cases of Zika and ….as I said before, one of the issues that we are having is because we have sensitised the nation to the Zika threat for over a year, many people are self diagnosing, whether correct or incorrectly, and therefore not even going to a doctor, allowing the virus to run its course…”, he said.

According to the senior government minister, some people might be having “mild symptoms” from the virus but “we don’t have those figures”.

Officially, there are four persons affected with Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) as a result of ZIka but one has since died.

Health Minister Steele said three persons are currently warded due to the virus.

“PAHO is concerned as well of the number of cases that we have had – four cases, which are four times more than we should have at this given period”, he added.

Minister Steele stressed that the virus is now affecting the region as a whole with St Vincent, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago reporting similar high amounts of persons being affected by Zika.

“…We want to make sure that we do everything as a Ministry of Health, as a nation, as a people to prevent ourselves from getting this virus because of the possibility of Guillian Barre Syndrome,” he said.

Minister Steele told reporters that the island has an adequate amount of Immunoglobulin to treat persons affected with GBS and those who have been affected are all in stable but critical condition at the hospital.

In addition, he said that Grenada is fortunate that no babies have been born on the island with Microcephaly, while Barbados has reported two cases.

“We have focused primarily from the beginning on intervention of our pregnant women and we continue to do that, to have that focus on our pregnant women”, he said.

“…The Ministry last week distributed repellant to praegnant (women) and mosquito netting… I think we need to do everything possible to prevent a case of Microcephaly here in Grenada,” he added.

Minister Steele warned that government might take steps to enforce the law against persons who are not adhering to regulations that are needed to prevent the spread of vector borne diseases.

“We have taken the steps this month with respect to demolition of buildings, with respect to derelict vehicles…anti-litter laws.

“We now need the full co-operation of persons. It’s about the co-operation of the public-at-large in adhering to the proper behaviour patterns and procedure.

“…It is not something that I simply wanted to pass on to law enforcement officers to say that we must now issue tickets and charges to individuals…we prefer to educate the public and sensitise the public on the need to making lifetime adjustments with respect to litter, with respect to derelict vehicles, with respect to abandoned buildings to make sure that mosquito breeding sites are reduced.

However, Minister Steele indicated that, at some point, if it is determined that “not everyone can be responsible, government will have to lean on the laws to be enforced”.

The law provides for fines and possible imprisonment for persons posing a threat to good healthy habits.

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