Terrence Deyalsingh

 Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

THE number of local deaths from the influenza virus has risen to 24.

At the Health Ministry’s update last week, 16 fatalities were reported from the flu, with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh appealing to citizens — especially those considered at-risk — to get vaccinated.

In its update yesterday, the ministry placed the cumulative number of vaccines administered to the public for this flu season at 24,797.

However, the number of suspected influenza cases for the year was reported at 2,919 and the number of “confirmed influenza deaths” at 24.

“The influenza virus is serious and is generally more severe than the common cold. The flu vaccine is available, at no cost, at all health centres,” the ministry stated.

It reiterated that it is currently engaged in a robust, nationwide influenza vaccination drive for the 2020 flu season (October 2019 to May 2020).

This campaign has been implemented to protect the population against the influenza virus, which Deyalsingh warned is serious and is not the same as the common cold.

Groups considered vulnerable to the virus and who are urged to get the flu vaccine are children aged six months to five years; pregnant women; adults over 65; people with chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes mellitus); and people with chronic respiratory illnesses (such as asthma).

Persons in the health care workforce and essential services are also encouraged to get the flu vaccine.

Keep it clean

Members of the public are advised to contact their nearest health centre to confirm the dates and times that vaccines are distributed.

The ministry asked the public to note the importance of good hygiene in preventing the spread of the flu and extra precaution is necessary during flu season.

Precautions include washing hands often with soap and water or sanitising with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, particularly when using public amenities, as germs are spread this way.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs and where possible, avoid close contact with sick people.

If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them, including family members, and exercise extra caution around persons in the household who fall into any vulnerable group.

Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, dispose of the tissue in a bin, and wash or sanitise the hands.

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