by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Coronavirus helplines are 53-VIRUS and 45-VIRUS
- 6 existing health facilities have been designated as flu clinics
- If you believe that you have flu symptoms go directly to a designated health facility
53-VIRUS (53-84787) for Digicel and 45-VIRUS (45-84787) for Flow users are the numbers established by the Ministry of Health as part of efforts to prepare the nation for the inevitable arrival of coronavirus (Covid-19). These helplines will provide information about the disease to the general public and for the reporting of suspected cases of the virus.
In addition, 6 existing health facilities have been designated as flu clinics and have now been outfitted with separate and appropriately marked entrances so anyone with serious flu-like symptoms can visit without commingling with other patients.
These health facilities are:
- Grand Anse Medical Centre
- Gouyave Medical Centre
- Sauteurs Medical Centre
- St David Medical Centre
- General Hospital, St George’s
- Princess Royal Hospital, Carriacou
Minister for Health, Social Security and International Business, Hon. Nickolas Steele, stated that the public must be aware that these facilities should only be accessed in an emergency situation. “Don’t use the St George’s Health Centre if you believe that you have flu symptoms but come directly to the General Hospital. We will identify where you will go to the General Hospital for flu symptoms. What we need to be cautious of as well is first of, if you feel you have flu symptoms stay home. It is only if it is becoming serious, so we don’t want as soon as you have a cough you run to a health centre, but only if you are experiencing severe flu-like symptoms.”
Grenada will also have the capability to test for Covid-19 and influenza once the new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) equipment arrives on the island in the next few weeks. Currently, the Ministry of Health has options for testing for Covid-19 which are through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and SGU testing services.
The Ministry of Health is also prepared to access the Revolving Fund of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) in emergency situations when dealing with the potential outbreak Covid-19. Support and training can also be access through PAHO. Grenada contributes towards the PAHO Revolving Fund and can access it for an emergency. “The last time we accessed that was for Zika when we needed to get some medications at lower prices on the international market,” Steele said.
Minister Steele has also welcomed the news that Grenada can access funding from the World Bank which has pledged to provide US$12 billion in emergency aid to developing countries grappling with the spread of coronavirus.
To bolster the manpower at the Ministry of Health, former Chief Medical Officer Dr George Mitchell has been appointed as Covid-19 Coordinator. He outlined 5 areas that will receive strategic engagement in preparation for the arrival of Covid-19. The areas of focus are:
- To beef up public education and awareness
- Monitoring and surveillance at Ports of entry
- Building partner and stakeholder involvement
- Pay attention to at-risk people/ elderly homes visited and in the best of health
- Building the capacity of staff and institutions
One area of focus, in particular, is the concern for the nation’s elderly citizens who, according to research, are listed as being at a higher risk for Covid-19. He stated that measures will be put in place to minimise possible contamination of homes and to ensure that the elderly are at their optimum health. He said that visits to the various elderly homes are presently underway to ensure that precautionary measures are in place to prevent infection.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Health is to meet with the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC) on 6 March to discuss matters of concern for frontline workers within the health sector.