A Tabaquite woman has died from swine flu.
Relatives said medical officials only confirmed Nicole Seecharan contracted the deadly H1 N1 virus days after her death.
Now those who were in immediate contact with the former taxi driver are being asked to take necessary precautions.
Seecharan’s death occurred even before Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh confirmed that the deadly virus was back in the country in late December.
During a recent interview with Guardian Media, Deyalsingh said there were 10 cases of the H1 N1 virus in the country. However, he did not confirm that there were any recent deaths.
Seecharan, 47, mainly transported students to and from various schools in the Tabaquite area daily. It is believed she contracted the virus while doing her job.
Guardian Media spoke to her sister, Camilla Seecharan, at her home in Tabaquite. She said Nicole first got the flu in mid-November but for some reason after it went away it kept coming back.
On December 5, Nicole went to a private doctor who discovered she was a diabetic. She again sought that doctor’s advice three days later.
After realising there was no change in Nicole’s health, Camilla decided to admit her sister to the San Fernando General Hospital on December 9. She said the following day Nicole was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and two days later Nicole died.
“They put on the death certificate is cardiac arrest, she was an asthmatic and a diabetic,” Camilla said.
Nicole’s funeral took place on December 14.
“When the body came they say don’t let no one touch the body,” Camilla added.
A request which Camilla says got her curious.
Then about a week later, Camilla said she received a call from the Head Nurse at the Tabaquite Health Centre requesting a meeting. However, it did not occur that day.
“The Thursday morning I received a call from Dr (Sanjiv) Parasram he say he in the area and he want to come by me to have a visit. I said no problem. When he came now he started telling me, well you know your sister died out of swine flu...because they took blood and the blood went up to Port-of-Spain then it came back to Couva which contacted the Tabaquite Health Centre.”
She also disclosed that, “The head nurse at the Tabaquite Health Centre told us that all of us who interact with Nicole had was to go and take the flu shot, immediately, everybody.”
She is upset that the San Fernando General Hospital did not inform them of the real reason for her sister’s death.
“They never told us that because even when Nicole died there that morning and they allowed us to go to visit and I hold her and hug her and cried. They didn’t tell me don’t go near her. Don’t touch the patient. They did not do that,” Camilla said.
An angry Camilla added: “Educate people on it, let them know how to take measures to protect themselves. Every night I cry, I think about her and I say they could have save her they could have done more.”
Guardian Media contacted Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh who directed us the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram. Calls to Dr Parasram on his cell phone went unanswered.
Recently the Health Minister appealed to citizens to get the influenza vaccine to prevent possible hospitalisation or even death during the flu season.
The season runs from October each year to May the following year.
Though the vaccine is available free of charge, health officials said only a few people availed themselves of it.