Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Suspected new case in Sando
A patient exhibiting signs of the swine flu virus is presently warded at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) in a serious condition. Confirmation has come from SFGH acting Director of Health Dr Shevanand Gopeesingh, who yesterday said they are awaiting tests to confirm this diagnosis. Gopeesingh said in the past two weeks they have had at least three patients suspected of contracting the Influenza A/H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.
He said the other two patients who were suspected of having swine flu have since died. Autopsies confirmed their deaths as being due to pneumonia complicated by the virus, Gopeesingh said. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday that the patients who died were given the maximum possible care at the hospital.
This is the second time in about four years that there has been reports of this disease. On the last occasion, former MP Subhas Panday, at a news conference, claimed there had been 18 swine-flu related deaths at the SFGH. This was denied by then Medical Director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon, who is now back in the chair. Yesterday, citizens ignored the call by Khan not to panic, following his confirmation of six local cases of the swine flu virus.
Khan’s confirmation of six local cases of the A/H1N1 and two suspected deaths triggered panic among citizens, who flooded the public health facilities in search of the vaccine and to test for the disease yesterday. Chatoorgoon confirmed yesterday that “the Accident and Emergency (A&E) was in a mess.” He said, “Since the minister’s announcement, people have been flooding the casualty department for every cold and flu because they are frightened.”
Additional doctors were called in yesterday to the A&E to assist with the rush of patients. Gopeesingh confirmed that about 40 patients with the flu-like symptoms sought attention at the hospital yesterday. He said they were able to separate those who had fever and those with the viral-like symptoms, give them masks and put them in an isolated area where swabs were taken for testing. He said the results of those tests would vary.
In the interim, Gopeesingh, who is also acting CEO in the absence of Anil Gosine, who is on vacation, said they have erected a containment centre on the compound near the A&E department to treat with suspected cases. The centre is not yet fully equipped, as construction only started yesterday. “We have identified an area where we have isolated them (patients with flu symptoms),” he said.
“We are expecting resources from the ministry, more swabs, more masks, medication. We have tents (containment centres) outside and we are in the process of furnishing it. We are now doing the electrical connections.” Chatoorgoon also said there have been crowds at the various district facilities under the control of the South West Regional Health Authority enquiring about the vaccine, which are not yet available.
Gwendolyn Snaggs, manager, Expanded Immunisation Programme, said distribution of the vaccines had started and should be available at all of the district facilities by next week. However, she underscored that not every citizen will be able to access the vaccines. Only those the ministry has identified as high-risk, including children, senior citizens, pregnant women and those with weaker immune systems, will be vaccinated.
Khan said yesterday his ministry was trying to avoid the over-reaction and over-treatment method used when local cases were discovered in 2009. Executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency Dr C James Hospedales said yesterday that most people recover from fever and other symptoms from the virus within a week, without requiring medical attention.
However, in some cases, he said the illness can be severe, resulting in hospitalisation and death, mainly among people at greater risk for serious complications, if infected.
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