Minister Scotland's Remarks
Published 5th June 2009, 3:20pm
Thank you all for coming here this morning on such short notice.
As you are all aware, yesterday afternoon we had our first confirmed local case of the H1N1, or as it is more commonly referred to "Swine Flu". The purpose of this morning's briefng is to update you on the current situation, and provide you with the opportunity to confirm the facts by having dialogue with the medical professionals.
From the outset, I would like to emphasise that there is no need for panic or alarm. The situation at present is that we have one confirmed case, and the evidence makes it fairly clear that this was an imported case. As my colleagues will tell you this morning, there has been no evidence of local human-to-human transmission of the H1N1, which is good news.
Shortly after receiving news of the test results from CAREC yesterday afternoon, we had a multi-agency meeting to discuss the best course of action, and I am confident that our Public Health Department and the Health Services Authority have a solid response plan.
As you are likely aware, the patient is a student at First Baptist Christian School, and as a result, out of an abundance of caution, Public Health has closed the school for today. The parents were notified of the closing last night, and a clinic is being held at the school from 9-11 am today to allow any of the students or staff who may have been sick over the past week to attend to be screened for the H1N1 flu.
I support the chosen strategy of early identification and containment, and commend the fast response of public health officials - both in getting the message out and meeting with the school representatives. I am confident that the health officials are dealing with the situation in the best manner possible, and I commend them for the swift and organised manner in which they responded. It is comforting to know that there is a plan in place, and that the parties involved are prepared to implement it as soon as action is required.
This is a national health issue, and while government will do all it can, I want residents to also take responsibility - arm yourselves with facts and learn as much as possible about H1N1. Follow the advice of public health officials: Stay at home if you are sick and follow the rules of good personal hygiene.
There is no need for panic, but we need to take this seriously.
I would ask that you, as members of the media, assist us by ensuring that the information you report is accurate and informative. This is not a time for sensational journalism - the situation does not warrant it, and there is no benefit to it. By getting the facts out, and reminding the public of the steps they can take to protect themselves, you will be doing a much greater service to your readers and playing an important role in preventing human-to-human transmission of the virus.
Before I hand things over to Dr. Kumar and Dr. Hoeksema, I would like to state that my Ministry will continue to monitor the situation, and with the health care officials, we will make every effort to keep the public informed with any further updates.