Caribbean News Round-up


Health Ministry urges vigilance as Zika virus confirmed in C’bean

mosquito [Jamaica Observer] – The Ministry of Health is urging people to be more vigilant and take their responsibility as citizens seriously by cleaning up their environment and destroying mosquito breeding sites.

The ministry’s plea follows the announcement by the Caribbean Public Health Agency on Thursday that the Zika virus has been detected in the Caribbean.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse pointed out in a Ministry of Health release that the Zika virus is spread in the same way as chikungunya and dengue and via the same mosquito – the Aedes aegypti.

She said the Ministry of Health continues its preparedness activities for the possible introduction of the Zika virus in Jamaica. The virus has previously been reported in Brazil, Colombia and suspected in the Dominican Republic. The Pan American Health Organization has indicated that it has been confirmed in Suriname.

The Regional Health Authorities increased the frequency of fogging in several areas and will continue to pay close attention to high risk communities, the release said.

“I want to point out however that fogging is a temporary solution and cannot by itself solve the problem of mosquito breeding,” Bullock DuCasse emphasised.

She is calling on members of the public to destroy mosquito breeding sites by looking for anything around the home, school, churches and business places that may collect water and either cover it, keep it dry or dispose of it. Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets, cut the grass short and trim shrubbery, clear roof gutters and eaves to prevent water from settling and fill in and drain any low places in the yard such as areas where there are usually puddles when it rains.

“Persons should also protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent containing DEET, putting mesh on windows and doors and wearing long sleeved clothing where possible,” DuCasse said.

She added that “our close working relationship with the Local Government through the parish councils continues to ensure an integrated approach to controlling the mosquito population.” The Ministry recently handed over 45-55 gallon specially designed drum covers to the Parish Councils for distribution to communities.

The Ministry of Health also said it continues to prepare the health sector for any possible introduction of Zika virus as part of the vector control response. The Zika virus has not been detected in Jamaica to date.

The symptoms of Zika virus include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, eyeball pain, inflammation of the eye, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain, weakness, swelling of the lower limbs and rash consisting of small bumps. Symptoms last approximately four to seven days.


Man’s hand blown off by firecrackers

IMG-20151111-WA0004[TT Newsday]
MEDICAL Director of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) Dr Anand Chattergoon yesterday called for action against the use of fireworks as he revealed that 11 persons including a two-year-old child and a 54-year-old man visited the hospital on Divali night (Tuesday) and Wednesday for grievous injuries caused by the bursting of fireworks. In the case of the 54-year-old man, three of the fingers on his right hand were blown off when a firework he was holding, exploded.

The veteran medic told Newsday 11 patients had to seek medical attention at the southern hospital for serious injuries due to fire crackers and other explosive devices used on Tuesday night during the Divali festivites. And with Christmas and New Years fast approaching – times when fireworks are heavily used – Dr Chattergoon called for action.

“The Ministry of Health and other authorities have to do something about this situation because it is in the public’s interest for people to be made aware of the dangers posed by firecrackers and fireworks,” Dr Chatoorgoon said. He also pointed out that fire cracker injuries were also significantly increased on Old Year’s night when persons set off firecrackers and other fireworks to welcome in the New Year.

On Divali night, Arjun Maraj, 54, sustained serious injuries to his right hand when a firecracker exploded as he held it. Reports are that Maraj was at his Chickland Road home when he attempted to set off a firecracker. Reports are that the firecracker exploded in his hands.

Maraj was rushed to the San Fernando General Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Medical personnel reported that the maxi-taxi driver suffered serious injuries to the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand. He remains warded at the SFGH in stable condition. It was not known up to yesterday if the three fingers were successfully reattached to Maraj’s hand.

In another case, a toddler remains warded at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital in serious condition after a firecracker exploded in his hand at his Debe home Wednesday night. Two-year-old Joshua Rufus sustained severe injuries to his right hand and up to late yesterday was expected to undergo emergency surgery to his hand as several of his fingers were damaged during the mishap.

It is believed the toddler who holding a firecracker when it came into contact with a lighted deya and ignited. The firecracker exploded in the young child’s hand.

According to a police report at about 7.30 pm, little Joshua was in the gallery of his Debe Trace home playing with his two siblings, friends and family members when a loud explosion was heard.

Reports said that the toddler’s parents who were in close proximity rushed to the gallery area to see little Joshua screaming with his hands covered in blood.

Remnants of a firecracker were found near to the toddler. Neighbours who were alerted to the screams of the toddler rushed to render aid to the family. Emergency Health Services (EHS) were contacted and Joshua was rushed to the hospital in the ambulance.

When Newsday visited the Debe Trace area yesterday, neighbours said the community was praying for little Joshua’s full recovery.

“No one expected this to happen, it all happened so fast. One minute the children were playing together and there was laughter then we heard screams,”she said.

The woman who is also the mother of a one-year-old boy, said it was an accident and could not have been foreseen.

“People should not be quick to judge parents, these are very carful parents, but accidents happen and I am thankful that Josh (Joshua ) is alive and I am praying for his recovery,” the emotional woman told Newsday.


Pressure mounts on Venezuela to allow election observers

Maria Corina Machado is one of the opposition politicians barred from standing
Maria Corina Machado is one of the opposition politicians barred from standing

[BBC] – More than 150 lawmakers from Latin America and the United States have signed a letter addressed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

They urge him to allow international observers to monitor Venezuela’s legislative polls on 6 December. Venezuela has invited monitors from regional body Unasur but has rejected those from the Organisation of American States (OAS).

The lawmakers also called for the release of jailed opposition leaders. The letter to Mr Maduro was signed by 157 lawmakers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and the United States.

It says that “as citizens go to the polls, the presence of qualified international observers would permit all Venezuelans to have the highest degree of confidence in the integrity of the process and the electoral results”.

It calls on Venezuela to allow monitors from the European Union and the OAS as well as Unasur to observe the election on 6 December.

Some polls suggest it may be the first time in 16 years that the governing coalition could lose its majority in the National Assembly, Venezuela’s legislative body.

The lawmakers’ letter was published just a day after OAS head Luis Almagro sent a similar request to Venezuelan officials.

Mr Almagro, who is from Uruguay, urged the head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, to guarantee free and fair elections.

In his 18-page letter, Mr Almagro says that there “are reasons to believe that the conditions in which the people will vote on 6 December will not enjoy the level of transparency and electoral justice, that you, at the National Electoral Council, should guarantee”.

Mr Almagro expressed concern about the number of opposition politicians barred from standing in the election. He also cast doubts about the evidence used in the trial of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Mr Lopez was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison for incitement to violence during mass anti-government protests. The prosecutor in the case, who has since left Venezuela, alleges that the trial was a sham to silence Mr Lopez.

The leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, reacted to Mr Almagro’s letter by slamming the OAS. He called the regional body “the most perverted, corrupt and discredited organisation in the world” and accused it of threatening the people of Venezuela. Venezuela has been critical of the OAS in the past, saying that it is dominated by the United States, with which Venezuela has rocky relations.

Widow: Put salt in the horse’s food

widos[Trinidad Express] – “You can lead a horse to water and if you put salt in its food, it will drink.”

Grieving widow Phyllis Millette offered this pearl of wisdom yesterday at the funeral service for her murdered son, Prison Supt David Millette, 50.

She also challenged parents to raise their children properly.

Millette was killed on November 2 outside his Morvant home.

Within a space of ten days, Millette was also mourning her husband Stevenson Millette who died on Thursday at the Port of Spain General Hospital.



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