There have been ten confirmed cases of H1N1 virus or swine flu in the country.
Confirmation came from Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday during an interview on The Morning Brew.
In giving details about the deadly virus, Deyalsingh admitted that it was not unusual for the ministry to face challenges during the flu season which starts in October and ends post-Carnival, as he urged citizens to get their free vaccines at health centres.
Of the 75,000 H1N1 vaccines available, Deyalsingh said, 14,500 people have been inoculated in the last few weeks.
Once the stock drops to 20,000 vaccines, the ministry reorders.
In 2015, there were 29 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus with three deaths.
Though the South West Regional Health Authority had recently reported of treating a few H1N1 patients, Deyalsingh said the overall figure was “ten,” stating that the majority of cases originated in South.
“We have had three pregnant women in this flu season who needed ICU support to get over that hump,” he said.
Deyalsingh said two of the women have successfully recovered, while the third is receiving medical attention.
“We have escaped the death of three pregnant women for this season so far. We have one now who is touch and go...who was not vaccinated.”
When asked if any of the ten patients were critical, Deyalsingh replied: “We’ve had two deaths over the last three seasons which statistically is excellent but is a disaster for those families.”
The minister said in the past yearly vaccines were administered to five at-risk categories of people-health care workers, elderly with metabolic diseases, children, those with poor immune system and pregnant women.
However, he said this policy has since changed, as anyone can now access the vaccine free.
So far, Deyalsingh said, 1,800 vaccines were administered to pregnant women at antenatal clinics.
“It is a priority.”
The minister said the Government also took a decision on Thursday that Carnival bandleaders should inform their foreign masqueraders via its websites to have their H1N1 shots in their home country before coming to our shores.
“Because it is very difficult for somebody flying in to play mas on Carnival Saturday to get vaccinated. It is just not going to happen,” the minister pointed out.
As for the controversial Couva Hospital, Deyalsingh said hoped to have it operational later this year.
Deyalsingh said he has no plans to scrap the Regional Health Authorities in 2019.
“What we are doing at the ministry is exerting more oversight on the RHAs and I think that is bearing fruits.”