CARIBBEAN360 – No cases of the Zika virus have surfaced in Trinidad and Tobago, but Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has declared a national public health emergency as a result of the threat of the virus, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to determine whether to declare an international emergency.
He said that stance was being taken because of the spread of the virus across more than 20 countries in the Americas. With the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for spreading Zika, in the twin-island republic, the minister added, its arrival was inevitable.
Deyalsingh made the announcement on Friday, a day after the WHO said its chief Margaret Chan would convene a meeting of the organization’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee tomorrow to determine whether the Zika outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern.
“Be that as it may I, as Minister of Health, am declaring a national public health emergency…I have already set up a Rapid Response Unit to treat with Zika and to treat with the Aedes aegypti mosquito,” Deyalsingh said at a media conference on Friday.
Under the initiative, the Ministries of Local Government and National Security and other State agencies that have a stake in environmental concerns will collaborate to increase fogging, spraying and dissemination of information to the public. Soldiers will assist in this regard.