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Two local cases of chikungunya detected: Teen, pensioner infected
Mosquitoes are now carrying the potentially deadly chikungunya virus in T&T and already two people have been tested positive in Arima and Diego Martin. In a telephone interview yesterday, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said two new cases had been reported and the patients had contracted the ChikV virus in T&T, suggesting that the virus was now being spread by mosquitoes in the country. The infected were only identified as a 70-year-old woman from Diego Martin and a 15-year-old boy from Arima.
Last week, ChikV appeared in T&T for the first time in three people—from Diego Martin, South Oropouche and Barataria—who had recently travelled to Caribbean countries where the virus was endemic. The three cases were thus imported cases, as all three individuals were suspected to have contracted the virus overseas. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said those three people were progressing well. The two new cases bring the total number of ChikV cases in T&T to five.
The total number of confirmed cases in the Caribbean is now 5,751 and there have been 26 deaths in the region related to ChikV As the cases of ChikV in T&T increase, the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation is claiming that no spraying of mosquitoes is being done in the area.
Kwesi Antoine, councillor for Caledonia/Upper Malick and chairman of the corporation’s Health Committee, said the corporation was told by representatives from the Insect Vector Control Division (IVCD) that the vehicle used for spraying was out of action.
In a telephone interview yesterday, he said: “Since October they (IVCD) told us their vehicle was down. Three weeks ago at a consultation meeting between the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Health, we brought it to their attention and they said they will put things in place.
Up to now, nothing has happened.” Antoine said the corporation was carrying out cleanups and outreach educational programmes to help prevent the spread of ChikV. Commenting on Antoine’s claim, Khan said he would look into the matter. He added: “But I am disappointed that IVCD could leave it for three weeks and not attend to it. I would like to ask those who are responsible for certain issues to kindly do their work because their own children can become affected.”
Meanwhile, the Diego Martin Regional Corporation (DMRC) is meeting today to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the virus in its region, says Daryl Smith, chairman of the corporation. Asked why the corporation had waited for the virus to reach the area before calling a meeting, Smith said: “This whole thing is new to us and we only found out about it last week and this week.” Smith said the IVCD has been spraying the area and he intended to ask them to increase their efforts.
He said the corporation planned to start a clean-up which would include clearing empty lots, properly disposing of tyres and continuing with clearing drains. He added an educational outreach programme also would be started.
Fuad: Don’t forget dengue
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is warning the population to not allow the hype around ChikV to distract them from the imminent threat of dengue fever. He pointed out: “Chikungunya alone does not kill but dengue does. “So I would like to appeal to the public to do their part in cleaning up their surroundings and to take heed of the prevention measures.”