PRESS RELEASE – The Ministry of Health and Wellness is advising carnival patrons and the general public to be safe and secure during this carnival season.
The advisory comes from Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George. She cautions against excessive drinking, exposure to the sun, unsafe sexual practices and reminds the public to use mosquito repellent to prevent the spread of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses.
“For persons who will be on the road for extended periods of time, we are advising that persons keep well hydrated. We don’t want persons getting sick and dehydrated while they enjoy the festive season. So we would like to ensure that they keep drinking and water is the best drink to prevent dehydration.”
Dr. George also encouraged the use of sunblock to protect the skin against prolonged exposure to the sun and advised that young children should also be kept well hydrated with water as opposed to carbonated drinks and kept out of the direct sunlight for long periods of time. She noted that the onset of rainy season also brings with it an increase in vector borne diseases and advised carnival patrons and the general public to keep safeguarding themselves.
“During the carnival time most people have a lot of skin exposed, so you’re at risk to bites from the Aedes agypti mosquito. A lot of the evening activities are in outdoor open air facilities, so we are requesting as part of your carnival park to ensure you have mosquito and insect repellent available and you apply it regularly to reduce the chances of contracting from Dengue Fever to Chikungunya to even the Zika Virus as well.”
Drinking and driving is another major issue during the carnival season. The Medical Officer said the Accident and Emergency Departments of the hospitals see an increase in both minor and major injuries during this period.
“We are asking persons to please do not drink so that you are not vigilant to be able to take the necessary precautionary measures. If you are going to drink do so in moderation and not excessive that you don’t end up being a danger to yourself and to other persons. We are also asking persons to look out for your friends. If you notice your friend is drinking excessively indicate that you will drive them home.”
Dr. George also noted an increase in sexually transmitted diseases during the carnival season and advises against unsafe sexual habits and practices.
“We want persons to have fun but also to keep healthy. We make condoms available at our healthcare facilities and we know that most of the carnival bands provide condoms as part of the carnival pack. So keep yourself safe, keep your family safe as well during this season . We wish people a safe carnival but please take the necessary precautions to reduce the possible impact on your health after the carnival season.”