Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Mosquito-control staff weren’t diverted to fighting COVID – Greene

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2020 | 12:11 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Errol Greene, regional director of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), is dismissing suggestions that the vector-control programme under his oversight has suffered from a redeployment of workers to COVID-19 relief.

The WRHA took on additional community health aides in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak and, said Greene, performed dual roles when vector-control workers were unavailable.

The regional director said that, despite recent rains affecting the WRHA’s mosquito fogging schedules, the organisation is still maintaining its vector-control programme, in line with directives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Greene said that Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton had met with all regional directors and asked them to maintain mosquito-suppression activities that were operational a year ago when dengue fever was still a major concern.

Greene’s comments follow recent reports that the Aedes aegypti mosquito index in St James had risen to 11.5 per cent during August, nearly double its record low of 6.2 per cent in May. The mosquito index serves as an indicator of the geographical spread of dengue and the number of mosquito-breeding sites.

Last month, the Ministry of Health and Wellness called for health inspectors and vector-control workers to recommit themselves to preventing any future dengue outbreaks in Jamaica. It is understood that the ministry has committed to a task-worker vector-control programme to be continued until October 2.

Concerns were previously raised about the potential devastation that Jamaica’s population would face if dengue infections should combine with COVID-19, which, up to Friday morning, had resulted in 4,571 infections and 55 deaths locally.

Data from the Pan American Health Organization show that Jamaica had 7,555 cases of dengue in 2019, with 24 deaths resulting from the mosquito-borne disease. By comparison, 729 cases and one death from dengue were recorded up to July this year.