Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. November 4, 2009: The Ministry of Health wishes to provide an update to the national community on Influenza A/H1N1 developments.

Global Update

As of 25 October 2009, worldwide there have been more than 440,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic Influenza H1N1 and over 5,700 deaths reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As of October 16th, 2009, all 35 countries of the Pan American Region have reported cases of Influenza A / H1N1. This is represented in a total of 160,129 cases and 3,539 deaths.

It should be noted that 99.5% of countries globally have stopped counting cases and are no longer doing screening for H1N1. As many countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly of milder illness, the case count above is likely to be significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occurred.

Further, on the global level 95% of all H1N1 cases have been mild.

Local Update

In Trinidad and Tobago the most recent epidemiological reports indicate 210 confirmed H1N1 laboratory confirmed cases and five H1N1 deaths. 57% of these cases fall within the 0-19 age group and 37% within the 20-49 age range. Males and females seem to be equally affected.

It is important to note that the persons who passed away presented respiratory distress when admitted at the hospital and had serious underlying risk factors. It is important to note that apart from these deaths, the rest of the H1N1 cases treated in our country were relatively mild and the persons returned to their normal activities within seven to ten days.

Generally, the groups which are at greatest risk of severe or fatal illness are pregnant women, children younger than 2 years of age and persons with chronic lung disease, including asthma. The obese are also among those at high risk.

Message to Citizens

The Ministry reminds the public that not everyone who presents himself/herself for care at hospitals will be swabbed.

1. Healthy persons presenting no flu-like symptoms will NOT be swabbed.
2. Patients with flu-like symptoms will be swabbed if:

*They have severe illness requiring hospitalization;
*The health care professionals have reason to believe that the patients constitute the first 2–3 members of a potential cluster coming to the attention of the health care system;
*The patients are members of a high-risk group.

Further, the Ministry of Health would like to inform persons that if they fall ill with flu like symptoms they should:

•Avoid school/work/church/gatherings for 10 days from the onset of symptoms
•Monitor themselves for emergency warning signs (shortness of breath, dizziness and confusion; prolonged vomiting & diarrhea; any worsening of symptoms by day 4 of their illness.) If worsening occurs, they should seek medical attention.

All citizens are further asked to seek official information on the Influenza A H1N1 through the Ministry’s:

•Web site at www.health.gov.tt
•Facebook group: Ministry of Health
•Twitter @ moh_tt
•Email @ corpcomm@health.gov.tt