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AUTHORITIES TIGHTEN THE EFFORTS TO PROTECT AGAINST SWINE FLU

Local health and disaster preparedness authorities are continuing to take precautionary measures to protect the people of the Territory against the deadly Swine Flu (H1N1) virus, which continues to affect several countries around the world.

A Pandemic Influenza Taskforce, which is comprised of personnel from the Ministry of Health and Social Development, BVI Health Services Authority, and the Department of Disaster Management, among other agencies, has increased its public education activity.

Among other things, it released several informational fliers today that target both residents and visitors of the Territory. It also confirmed that a series of visits will soon be conducted at all public and private schools in the Virgin Islands (UK), which would feature 15-30 minute presentations.
A number of programmes are being produced for airing on local radio and television stations, in the coming days.

In accordance with a recommendation from the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the local Pandemic Influenza Taskforce said the Territory’s borders remain open. However, there is increased surveillance of travellers by the relevant local authorities to quickly detect symptoms that may be related to Swine Flu.

Residents have been assured of confirmation from the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (OECS/PPS) that the antiviral drug TAMIFLU will soon be made available to its member states, including the Virgin Islands (UK), if necessary.

The Taskforce also said that efforts are also being made to identify additional sources of TAMIFLU in an effort to ensure there will be an adequate supply of the drug for frontline workers, in any eventuality.

Taskforce members participated in a Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation-hosted teleconference on Tuesday, 28 April where they were able to share country situation and ask questions of the various Ministers of Health and other senior health and disaster management officials from the United States of America, Canada, Latin and South America, and the Caribbean.

The officials, who included Chief Medical Officer Dr. Irad Potter, Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Health Services Authority Dr. Ronald Georges, Health Disaster Coordinator Mrs. Dawn Leonard, and Director of Disaster Management Ms. Sharleen DaBreo, took the opportunity to ask questions about the H1NI virus, as well as to get updates on the effect that it is having on the impacted countries represented. There was also discussion on the steps that have been taken by each country to control the spread of Swine Flu.

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