The Health Ministry is on high alert for cases of Swine Flu following the death of a third patient from the deadly virus.
A statement from the South-West Regional Health Authority in response to the Guardian’s report on the death of a Tabaquite woman said “proper medical procedures were followed” at the San Fernando General Hospital in treating Nicole Seecharan.
“The SWRHA continues to be on heightened alert and surveillance for swine flu cases and has coordinated all its facilities to be fully prepared for any further presence of the disease in the South-West Region,” the statement said.
In a telephone interview with Guardian Media, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said, “I’ve been making this call since November last year. I myself took the influenza vaccine to show how important it is to get inoculated. The flu is not to be taking lightly, it is a deadly virus.”
In 2018, there were two influenza-related deaths for flu season, Deyalsingh confirmed: “and that was despite an aggressive vaccination programme by the Ministry of Health.”
In preparation for the 2019 flu season, the Health Ministry brought in 75,000 doses of the influenza vaccine, which can be requested at health centres free of charge.
“Some citizens have not been listening to my calls. Unless there is an emergency we do not act. You can only safeguard your health by getting the flu vaccination shot,” Deyalsingh said.
In early January, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) acting medical director, Dr Robin Sinanan, confirmed there have been “a couple of cases” of patients contracting the H1N1 but assured steps were being taken to treat with these patients, including more robust immunization programmes.
In relation to the Seecharan’s case, the SWRHA said the protocols, nasopharyngeal swabs to test for the Influenza A (H1N1) “Swine Flu” were taken on December 10, 2018, and sent to the Trinidad and Tobago Public Health Laboratory.
“The laboratory results were returned nine days later. On receipt of the results, our surveillance team immediately contacted the relatives to discuss the findings and provide vaccinations to the family,” the SWRHA said.
The SWRHA is urging all citizens to practice good hygiene (washing hands) and proper respiratory etiquette (cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze, etc). Any person displaying flu-like symptoms is urged to visit their doctor or health centre immediately.
The Authority remains committed to reducing the spread of the disease and encourages members of the public to visit any of our 31 Health Centres and 3 District Health Facilities located at Couva, Siparia or Princes Town to receive the Influenza vaccine free of charge,” the statement said.
Family and friends of Nicole Seecharan who died last month of Swine Flu are questioning why no one was told the truth surrounding the nature of her death.
Seecharan, a 47-year-old taxi driver of Tabaquite died on December 12, however, a Guardian Media exclusive revealed yesterday that she died of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.
Relatives said medical officials only confirmed Seecharan contracted the deadly H1N1 virus several days after her death.
Seecharan’s neighbour, Sharen Badal-Ahyew, one of the villagers who took the influenza vaccine following her death, remained baffled as to why they weren’t told the truth.
“I visited her at the hospital and did not know she had Swine Flu,” she said.
“Why did it take so long for the Ministry to inform family and villagers about Nicole’s death? Why does it take so long to get the H1N1 blood test results?”
Following the article, over 50 villagers headed to the Tabaquite Health Centre to get the Influenza shot yesterday in an attempt to avoid Seecharan’s fate.