Days after losing her three-year-old daughter Pretoria Smith to what was suspected to be the H1N1 virus, Daywatee Sinanan is now praying to God to save the life of her two-year-old son Preston.
The child is currently warded in a serious condition at the San Fernando General Hospital. Doctors are now running multiple tests to see whether he too became ill after contracting a virus.
Preston is already suffering from symptoms such as body pains, fever and shortness of breath and Sinanan said doctors told her he had a 90 per cent chance of having sickle cell disease.
This makes him especially vulnerable to complications from the H1N1 swine flu virus.
The child had been sick for several days before his sister Pretoria died at their Sum Sum Hill, Claxton Bay home and Sinanan was convinced he was making a full recovery. Now she believes she was wrong.
“I am in the hospital since last night. My son is on drips and he is sleeping most of the time. I am very worried. I cannot bear to lose him too,” Sinanan said during an interview with Guardian Media.
She added, “He has a 90 per cent chance of sickle cell disease. They are doing tests to make sure he is OK. I thought he had recovered. They did bloods last night and I am waiting for the diagnosis. I am so worried.”
She said she still had no closure over Pretoria’s death. The tissue samples taken from her body were still being analysed and Sinanan said she would have to wait until next week to find out whether the child died from the H1N1 virus.
Sinanan said a doctor who did tests on Pretoria’s body told her child’s organs failed after she contracted H1N1 but the death certificate did not reflect this, noting further analysis had to be done.
The tissue samples taken for testing will show whether Pretoria succumbed to swine flu. However, Sinanan said those results will not be available until next week.
Her husband Francis Smith, a grocery worker, has not been to work since the children fell ill.
It was Francis who first got the virus and it spread to their eldest daughter Princess, who later recovered. The two youngest children became ill and Pretoria later died before her mother could take her for medical treatment. At the time, Sinanan said, she could not carry all three of them to the health centre because she had no transportation and it was difficult to manage all three of them on her own.
Sinanan said she was hoping that the Ministry of Health could vaccinate all members of the family and everyone with whom they came into contact with. Even though it was not confirmed that her daughter died from swine flu, Sinanan said she was praying that she would not lose her son as well.
Contacted for comment, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said there was nothing in place for a health care unit to go into communities to isolate and vaccinate people at risk. Instead, he said he has been appealing to people to go to the health centres. He also said that people who were already sick could not be vaccinated.
Even though 100,000 vaccinations are available, Deyalsingh said, only 8,100 people have accessed the vaccines in a week and a half.
“This is horribly low considering all the hype in the media. I myself visited three health centres in the North and what I found was a total lack of interest in getting vaccinated. People don’t seem to understand the importance of being vaccinated,” he said.
He called on all pregnant women, elderly people over 65, those who were diabetic, hypertensive, children six months to five years, health care workers and people who smokee and are asthmatic to be vaccinated.
For this year 14 people have died and 2,539 cases of suspected influenza cases have presented, along with 100 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus. There were 18 confirmed cases of H3N2 virus for 2019 and one confirmed case of ‘unsubtypeable influenza A’ virus.
“The majority of deaths this year are the elderly and people suffering from diabetes, hypertension and obesity,” Deyalsingh added.