Thursday, September 17, 2009

Flu Outbreak in Caye Caulker

Public Advisory

Belmopan, September 17, 2009 - The Ministry of Health has detected a major outbreak of a flu-like illness in Caye Caulker. The public is hereby reminded that in order to prevent the spread of influenza including the H1N1, people suffering with flu like symptoms should remain at home for the duration of their illness. If you present with symptoms you are advised to visit your nearest health care provider. Please wash hands frequently and cover mouth when coughing and sneezing. The most common symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. - A message from the Ministry of Health

Suspected Swine Flu Outbreak Closes Down Belize Tourism Island

A suspected Swine Flu outbreak has closed down Caye Caulker Island, a popular tourism destination in Belize a few miles away from Ambergris Caye. The island with a population of 2,500 reported dozens of flu-like symptoms in pre-schools and primary schools this week. These institutions were closed down on the advice of the Belize Ministry of Health.

Now today two high schools on Caye Caulker have taken the decision to voluntarily close down as a precautionary measure. Meanwhile the Belize Ministry of Health has recommended that all mass gatherings be suspended. As a result, all public events leading up to and including Independence Day on September 21, have been canceled.

Over one hundred students are ill with flu-like symptoms and many teachers and citizens are also reported ill. The Belize Director of Health Services Dr, Michael Pitts stated today that:
"What we have done beyond the school is to ask the village council if they can suspend the major family gathering that would bring kids together with the wider population.

"In Caye Caulker we have a standing population of twenty-five hundred and there's only one major primary school and it is our view that the primary school basically is a reflection of the village and just about every household there would have some kids who would have been exposed. So what we are saying to Caye Caulker is let's try and interrupt this epidemic and for the next couple of days suspend major gatherings that would bring family units together."

Meanwhile the village council authorities are trying to do some damage control to minimize losses from the tourism business which is the main money earner for Caye Caulker:
Ralph Humes, Caye Caulker Chairman
"We will need to postpone or cancel some of our September celebration activities. So far we had already canceled out the children's rally that should have taken place on the 18th of this month and a variety of other sporting events.

"Our ceremonies and road march and carnival parade will be discussed at a meeting tonight with the celebration committee and then we will decide which will be postponed and which will be canceled. The Ministry has encouraged us to disregard whatever mass gatherings that we would be having because they don't want the outbreak of this flu to spread in the whole community."

Ralph Humes,
"It will definitely have a big effect on tourism. Since this morning we had some concerns from some of the restaurant owners and even the hotel owners asking us if we were going to close down the island."

Late reports say a number of Belize City High Schools on the mainland are reporting H1N1 cases. - By The Founder on September 17, 2009 5:35 AM

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