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Jamaica: Dengue kills 6 children since virus outbreak

By CMC

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 13, CMC – Six children under the age of 14 have died as Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton gave an update on the outbreak of the dengue fever to Parliament on Tuesday.

He told legislators that as at February 8, this year, there were six confirmed deaths, five from Kingston and St. Andrew and one from Portland.

“These confirmed deaths have been children under the age of 14 years old,” he said, adding that the Ministry pf Health has classified 1,166 suspected, presumed or confirmed cases with dates of onset in 2019.

According to the Health Minister, in 2018, the Ministry classified 1,023 suspected or confirmed cases.

“The weekly number of cases appears to be plateauing, and while we need to wait for another two to three weeks to be sure, this is an encouraging sign,” Tufton said, noting that the experts theorise that numbers will begin to trend downwards.

Tufton also disclosed that there is an adequate supply of medication to treat the dengue outbreak.

“There is no shortage of medication in the public or the private health system,” he said, adding that the stock level of certain drugs continues to be monitored, including paracetamol tablets, paracetamol syrup, oral rehydration products and intravenous fluids.

Providing an update on the dengue outbreak affecting the island, Tufton said more than J$600 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) has been allocated in response to the outbreak.

“A part of our community engagement has been the involvement of members of the House and the Municipal Corporations, of which Cabinet has approved J$55.7 million to Members of Parliament and J$100 million to the Corporations to undertake vector control activities,” he noted.

Tufton said for the month of February, the Ministry will continue to work with regional and international collaborators to sustain the ramped up vector control management, public education and clinical management.

“We urge Jamaicans to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites around their homes; visit their doctors if they experience symptoms and follow the prescribed course of treatment,” he said, adding that the Ministry team is doing all it can to ensure the best possible health outcomes for those currently affected by dengue, to prevent the spread of the virus to other members of the population.

He said work continues in clinical management with the sustained sensitisation of all private and public doctors.

“Parish medical officers of health were re-sensitised on response and enhanced surveillance, the integrated management strategy to include enhanced vector control activities and clinical management,” he added.

Dengue is a viral infection that is transmitted via the bite of particular types of mosquitoes. It most commonly occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

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