Swine flu scare in Barbados
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 14, 2009 – A crew member on board a cruise ship docked in the Bridgetown Port has been placed under “strict quarantine” on the vessel after a panic created when he began exhibiting flu symptoms.
Authorities from the Ministries of Health and International Transport issued a statement yesterday, outlining the measures that were being taken, after reports began spreading that someone on board the Carnival Victory – which arrived in the island yesterday morning with 3,000 passengers – had been infected with swine flu and that the port had been shut down.
Medical personnel converged at the island’s main sea port, further fuelling speculation. But the ministries’ joint statement sought to assure that the situation was under control.
“The Ministry of Health has already sent a sample swab to the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad and Tobago for further testing to determine if it is the A (H1N1) virus,” it said.
“Only passengers and crew given the all clear were authorized to disembark the vessel. Officials of the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal Inc have confirmed that at no time was the Bridgetown Port closed, but that strict health procedures for managing such situations were fully activated, which resulted in some delay in passengers disembarking,” it continued, adding that four teams of medical personnel were on hand to thoroughly screen all disembarking passengers for symptoms of the influenza.
“The Ministries of Health and International Transport will continue to work collaboratively to ensure that the health and safety of frontline personnel at the island’s ports of entry, and Barbadians in general, are not compromised. We are urging the public to continue to go about their business as usual since they will not be in contact with the affected crew member.”
The panic came just days after the first case of swine flu was confirmed in the Caribbean. Cuba on Monday announced that a male Mexican student who is studying at a medical school there has tested positive for the influenza H1N1 virus.
The number of confirmed cases has reached over 5,700 in 33 countries, with 61 deaths reported in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Costa Rica.