Grenada’s acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Shawn Charles says the country is experiencing a significant increase in Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs).
The CMO made the announcement during the government’s weekly Post Cabinet Press Briefing on Tuesday.
He said the current outbreak of flu-like illness has affected many schools and some business places. “People are being placed on sick leave or are absent as a result of this. We have noted that the number of cases of ARIs is progressively and steadily rising. We have started testing to verify whether this is as a result of the Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) or not and so far, cases tested have been negative,” the CMO explained.
Dr Charles, an Epidemiologist by training who has been leading the Ministry’s technical response in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, cautioned that the country could be heading down a very worrying path. “It means that we have simply let our guard down, and in the event that a single case of Covid-19 escapes, and it could be from an illegal border entry, or if someone presents very late after all of our screening procedures, it means that we will face the same consequences that we see currently taking place in other countries,” Dr Charles said.
Turning to the Ministry’s weekly Epidemiology report, Dr Charles explained that in week 16 of 2021 there were 26 Acute Respiratory Infection cases. In week 17, there were 46 cases, and that number jumped to 133 in week 18. Dr Charles said “there were only 21 cases in week number 18 of 2020, and now it has more than quadrupled, so something has happened. Somehow, we have given this virus the opportunity to spread from person to person easily.”
The CMO who clearly identified the illness as being the flu, explained that the viral infection presents with the same symptoms like Covid-19; fever, headaches, runny nose, sore throat and fatigue, and can also be transmitted in the same way Covid-19 is transmitted, through droplets and personal contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.
He appealed to citizens to follow the public health protocols and practice proper hygiene, and also obey the measures that are keeping us safe and alive.
He also called on persons who are not yet vaccinated, to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves.