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Minister of Health dr. Christopher Tufton has revealed that his ministry will send samples to Jamaica to be tested for the possible presence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), amid a more than 400 percent increase in severe acute respiratory infections (SARIs) in the past four weeks. period.

Recently, an increase in RSV has been observed in Canada and the United States.

Tufton explains that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the six control areas typically saw between 19 and 21 SARI admissions each week, but between September 25 and October 22, the number of SARI admissions increased from four to 19, mainly among children .

Tufton says the medical wards at Bustamante Children’s Hospital are over capacity, with at least six accident and emergency patients waiting to be admitted each night. Spanish Town Hospital also saw an increase in admissions and overcrowding.

The Ministry of Health says that given the rise in RSV in North America, the Ministry felt it was prudent to send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s laboratory to determine if RSV was causing the spike in respiratory illness locally.

He says the Pan American Health Organization has also been contacted to provide reagents to facilitate local testing.

Reagents are expected in Jamaica in seven to ten days.

Meanwhile, Tufton says the ministry has arranged for free treatment for children up to 12 years of age at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

He announced that the health centers will open extended from Thursday, and the National Health Fund pharmacy at the Bustamante Children’s Hospital will be open until 10 p.m. in the evening.

Orange County, in southern California, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to the rapid spread of viral infections that are sending more and more children to the hospital.

The county is seeing an increase in children with RSV, which can cause serious breathing problems in babies.

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