Important Updates from the Ministry of Health: Zika Virus, Cleanup Day, H1N1 Flu Virus, and More

The Ministry of Health is working hard to inform the public on the various health concerns plaguing us at the moment. Please note the following important information, taken from several recent press releases. For Zika Virus updates, go to:  For more information, visit the Ministry’s excellent website at Like and follow them on; on Twitter @ ;

What I would like to know is: What about the blood samples of suspected Zika Virus sent to Trinidad? How many were positive, or were other viruses found such as dengue fever? We need an update on this! Do we still have just ONE case of Zika Virus to record? An update is overdue, Minister Dalley!

Three communities, Old Braeton and Reeds Pen in Portmore and Rivoli in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, will be the focus of the National Cleanup Day activities this Saturday, February 20. The Ministry of Health’s initiative is called “Operation Mosquito Search and Destroy.”

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye highlighted the timelines and the schedule for the day for the Ministry of Health team along with vector control workers, stakeholders and partners. “We will be meeting at 9am at the Portmore Pines Plaza, then fan out with the team in the communities of Old Braeton and Reeds Pen. We meet again at 1pm at the Parish Council office at Emancipation Square in Spanish Town and the team will then fan out in Rivoli”.

Although this National Cleanup Day will focus on three main areas, every Jamaican is being asked to actively and consistently search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites. The focus is also to have everyone gather bulky waste for removal by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). Dr. De La Haye stated that there will be other National Cleanup day activities in other parishes.

Dr. De La Haye said the National Cleanup Day activities will be done “with the support of our national response team which comprises the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the NSWMA, JEEP, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Parish Councils, Social Development Commission (SDC), Ministry of Education among many others”. Patrick Watson, Social Development Commission (SDC) National Planning Coordinator said he is “urging other agencies to help get the message out and get the message totally accepted by communities”.

Dr. De La Haye reiterated that “this is a multi-departmental affair as no one Ministry is able to address the situation and more importantly it’s a preventable illness because if you don’t get bitten, you can’t get ill”.

Old tires hold water and breed mosquitoes. I would like to know though, how are these being stored? What is being done with them?
Old tires hold water and breed mosquitoes. I would like to know though, how are these being stored? What is being done with them?

Meanwhile, the Ministry issued a pretty long list of communities with high Aedes aegypti breeding indices, here: Is your community among them? I think you should take a look. And take action now! Vigilance is required. And remember, we have had rain in many parts of the island in the past week or two. Mosquitoes will be breeding! Here’s their great anti-mosquito list:

  • Keep house plants in damp soil instead of water.
  • Keep flower pot saucers dry and avoid over-watering potted plants.
  • Empty and scrub flower vases twice weekly.
  • Empty and wash pet’s water container twice per week.
  • Keep refrigerator troughs dry.
  • Punch holes in bottom of tins before placing them in the garbage.
  • Get rid of all old tyres, tins, bottles, plastic containers, coconut shells and anything in which rain water can settle.
  • Cover trash containers to keep out rain water.
  • Cover all drums, barrels, tanks, buckets and any other container that is used to store water.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor taps.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.
  • Keep drains and ditches clear of weeds and trash so water will drain properly.
  • Fill in or drain any low places (puddles, ruts) in yard.
  • Clear roof gutters and eaves often to prevent water from settling.
  • Use commercially available insecticide.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites by:
  • Using a mosquito repellant that contains DEET
  • Sleeping under a mosquito net
  • Closing windows before dark
  • Opening windows and doors during fogging
  • Wearing light coloured clothing andcovering your body as much as possible.
The H1N1 virus - often called "swine flu" - is in Jamaica.
The H1N1 virus – often called “swine flu” – is in Jamaica.

And here is the Ministry’s recent release on cases of the H1N1 virus:

The Ministry of Health is reporting that Influenza viruses including cases of Influenza A (H1N1) have been detected through its surveillance system and continue to circulate among the population.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Haye is therefore urging persons to take steps to protect themselves and their families from being infected with these viruses.

“We are now in the flu season when we generally see an increase in the number of influenza cases among the population. Persons therefore have to be extra cautious in terms of preventing themselves from becoming infected and also from transferring infection to others by observing good hygiene practices,” Dr. De La Haye said.

Persons can take the following precautions:

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Control the spread of germs: avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands
  • Avoid contact with persons with flu-like symptoms
  • Avoid intimate contact including hand shaking and kissing
  • Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that presents with symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache and body aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also be experienced.
  • As part of the Ministry’s surveillance system samples from public health facilities are routinely sent for testing to the National Influenza Centre which is located at the University Hospital of the West Indies.



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