Caribbean countries called on to mobilise to deal with swine flu
By Anselma Aimable
Caribbean Net News St Lucia Correspondent
CASTRIES, St Lucia — Reacting quickly to the news emanating from the World Health Organization (WHO), of cases of swine flu in Mexico and the United States, the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC), called on Caribbean countries to begin immediate mobilization of key personnel to ensure that the region is ready to deal with possible cases of the swine flu.
WHO Director General, Margaret Chan. AFP PHOTO
"This is clearly an animal strain of H1N1 virus and it has pandemic potential because it is infecting people," Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO, said at a teleconference.
"However, we cannot say on the basis of currently available laboratory, epidemiology and clinical evidence whether or not it will indeed cause a pandemic," she said.
In record time the Ministry of Health called together a high level meeting at the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) headquarters on April 25.
The purpose of the meeting was to assess the situation and to prepare a plan to deal with any possible identification of someone affected with swine flu.
Among the organizations represented were NEMO Secretariat, the Government Information Service, the St Lucia Air and Seaport Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr George Joseph, Chief Veterinarian in the Ministry of Agriculture noted that "pork is safe to eat once properly cooked."
Presently, there is no known cases of swine flu in St Lucia, "but our concern is that the virus can be spread from human to human and as a result, we must be extremely vigilant from now on," said Dr Merleen Frederick, Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health.
Human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been identified in the United States and internationally. Over 1000 people have been sick in Mexico, but officials are trying to determine how many of those patients have swine flu, said Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos, the country’s Health Minister.