The Ministry of Health is allocating an additional $250 million to support enhanced measures to contain the spread of the dengue fever virus.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, made the disclosure at a press conference held at the Ministry’s corporate offices in New Kingston on Thursday (January 3), where he confirmed that the virus surpassed the epidemic threshold for December.
He said the latest figures from the Epidemiological Unit indicate that 123 dengue case reports (suspected, presumed and confirmed) were received for the month.
“This exceeded the outbreak threshold of 96 cases for December, and is the first month for 2018 in which the number of cases exceeded the outbreak threshold,” he said.
“This has been a more active season than last year, and we have been observing and monitoring the numbers and increases with each month, but by the clinical standards could only claim an epidemic once the threshold is surpassed,” Tufton noted.
He noted that there were seven suspected and two confirmed cases of dengue-related deaths for the period January to December 2018.
A total of 830 reported cases have been classified as suspected, presumed or confirmed as at January 3.
The number of confirmed cases stands at 23 for the period January 1, 2018 to January 3, 2019.
Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Westmoreland, and St. Ann have the highest reported cases of the dengue virus.
Tufton said the Ministry has already put a number of measures in place in anticipation of an outbreak of the virus.
These include increased fogging in 300 communities with clusters of dengue cases.
The Enhanced Vector Control (EVC) programme was extended to March 2019 to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
Additionally, there are extended opening hours at several health facilitates across the island. These include Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St. Ann, St. Mary, Manchester, Clarendon, St. James, and Westmoreland.
The Ministry has triggered the Emergency Operation Centre and the International Health Regulations Centre as well as the National Emergency Operations Centre.