Don’t let down your guard, warns health official

LUCEA, Hanover — Dr Kaushal Singh, medical officer of health for Hanover, said while the parish recorded only one COVID-19 case last month, residents must not let their guard down as there are other dangers lurking.

“We have the flu-like symptoms, and we investigated some of the cases and we realised that when we got feedback from the different labs from the ministry that there are different kinds of respiratory viruses circulating,” he told the monthly general meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation last Thursday.

Noting that the flu season generally runs from October to March, the medical officer is asking the public to take precautions and consider taking the flu vaccine. Pointing to an increase in the number of countries registering the new, highly transmissible Omicron offshoot XBB.1.5 variant of the novel coronavirus, he also urged locals to take the COVID-19 vaccine or get their booster shot.

The virus is currently circulating in more than 20 countries, including the neighbouring United States. While it is highly transmissible there is no available evidence that it makes people sicker, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The health and wellness ministry has not confirmed any presence of this variant in Jamaica.

“Those who have had COVID-19 before are still susceptible to infection, but vaccines are helping to protect against serious illness. As with other variants of the virus, the risk of becoming seriously ill remains highest for people who are elderly or who have significant underlying health conditions,” said the medical officer.

In addition to vaccination, he also encouraged the public to maintain safe practices such as hand washing and sanitising.

Dr Singh noted that once people start practising some of the prevention messages, “we will be good. I am quite confident about that”.

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