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Zika cases now likely in thousands—CMO

Published: 
Friday, August 12, 2016
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh presents Maraval resident Allison Welch-Dick and her son, Khalil, with mosquito zappers during the ministry’s mosquito eradication exercise yesterday in Boissierre Village, Maraval. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday said the number of Zika cases they had recorded were inaccurate and there were more than the 247 confirmed cases, with the likelihood that the figure was in the thousands.

He was speaking to the media during a mosquito eradication exercise at Boissierre Village, Maraval. 

Members of the Insect Vector, Army Rapid Response, Diego Martin Regional Corporation and Zika Task Force were present.

The exercise began at the Ellerslie Plaza car park and took the group up Vallot Street, across Harold and down Tapti Road.

During the exercise, Deyalsingh visited the home of several residents pointing out places that were potential breeding places for the mosquitoes. 

He shook his head and steupsed several times as he walked away from several premises with old abandoned vehicles, rubbish and empty bottles.

Deyalsingh said the purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate the fight against the aedes aegypti had not waned.

“We are keeping up the fight in St George West, where the bulk of the cases are coming. There are 247 confirmed and 78 pregnant women and 84 in St George West, which is 30 to 40 per cent of the cases. To that end we are stepping up our activities in St George West,” he said.

Deyalsingh said the 200-plus cases of Zika were the confirmed cases by blood test and 84 cases were in St George West. 

Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Clive Tilluckdharry, stood beside Deyalsingh and confirmed when asked whether the figure of people with Zika was numbering in the thousands.

“With the rash, fever, headaches is Zika, the number of cases in the thousands, that is Zika,” he said.

His advice for couples attempting to have children: “You can get pregnant you know, but take the necessary precautions and keep your environs free of the aedes aegypti. Use bed nets, insect repellent, not all pregnant women with Zika end up with microcephaly.”

During the tour, Deyalsingh said Government could only do so much as he pointed out several homes were a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the population had to get on board.

He described as “shocking” one case in which they found 30 beef bottles in a derelict vehicle. Several of the bottles had water in them with mosquito larvae.

“I am pleading with the public for them to take part in the solutions. It is a co-ordinated response. This is not only in T&T, it is globally who are affected.

“We saw another house where there were 30 bottles and 30 potential breeding sites in one residence. The population is still not getting the message we want. 

“Spreading is not the only answer. The more we spray the more resistance is the mosquito. We have to make sure there are no breeding sites,” he said.

Tilluckdharry said aerial spraying was not effective when questioned about the virus.

Deyalsingh said all corporations also needed to step up their game. 

He said Government had increased the fine from $300 up to $3,500 for residents with unkept lots under the Yellow Fever Regulations but some property owners were calling him to either get those fees waived or the period for payment extended. 

He said, however, it was time for property owners to take responsibility in the fight against Zika.

One resident complained to Deyalsingh that the corporation was not picking up derelict vehicles but a checker from the regional corporation who was on hand quickly dispelled that thought.

“That’s not true, I work here and I know they pick up the vehicles,” the checker said.

Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, Katy Christopher, said the Ministry of Health sprayed the communities but as a corporation they did four clean-up campaigns. 

“We are cleaning water courses in every district for the next two months. We normally do secondary drains under the cycle and we are doing what we can with a limited budget and being creative,” she added.

Breakdown of Zika cases by region:

• St George West: 91.

• St George Central: 39.

• St George East: 30.

• St Andrew/St David 4.

• Caroni: 20.

• Victoria: 45.

• St patrick: 12.

• Nariva/Mayaro: 0.

• Tobago: 6.

• Unknown: 8.

• Non-citizen: 1.