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Rise in number of respiratory illnesses

The Ministry of Health is reporting an increase in the number of cases of respiratory illnesses and is cautioning the public to practice good personal hygiene to prevent these viruses, including influenza, from spreading.

This advice come from Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Springer, who noted that during the period August 13 to September 8, 189 cases of acute respiratory illness had been recorded in the public sector, compared to 129 cases for a similar period last year. In addition, 34 cases of severe acute respiratory illness were admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital from July 15 to September 8, compared to 27 cases for the previous four weeks.

“Respiratory viruses are spread directly by droplets coughed or sneezed into the air which are then inhaled, or transferred indirectly by contaminated hands, handkerchiefs, or other objects which come in contact with the nose, mouth or eyes,” Springer stated.

She advised persons to cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing; throw away tissues in a bin, or collect them in a tied plastic bag; wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry with a disposable tissue; and to create airflows by opening windows and doors if possible, to eliminate germs.

Noting that most cases of respiratory illnesses were mild and tended to be resolved without specific treatment within a week, she explained that symptoms might include fever with chills, cough, headache, body ache, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Persons with mild cases are advised to get adequate rest and to drink plenty of clear fluids, while those who experience severe symptoms, such as significant chest pain, difficulty breathing or prolonged episodes of vomiting should seek urgent medical attention. (BGIS)

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