By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Assocation (BHTA) said yesterday that it was in constant communication with key health officials over the Chikungunya virus, after four new cases were confirmed this week.
BHTA president, Stuart Bowe ,in response to Tribune Business inquiries, said yesterday: “The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association continues to communicate with key personnel in the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism on matters related to the Chikungunya virus.
“Updated reports received by relevant government entities, including information related to the mitigation of the spread of the virus, statistics and other important information, has and will continue to be communicated to BHTA members immediately upon receipt.”
Mr Bowe added: “We recognise this is an important health issue. Therefore, the BHTA will continue to collaborate and communicate with the government and private sector on the matter.”
The Ministry of Health reported earlier this week that there were four new cases of the chikungunya virus in the country. The report came less than 10 days after public health officials confirmed that a tourist from the Dominican Republic tested positive for the virus.
The Ministry of Health released a statement yesterday advising the public that case surveillance for the fever is continuing, and that four of more than 50 people tested have the chikungunya virus.
The statement said 30 tests came back negative and there are 18 pending results. “Heightened surveillance activities continue, with the Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health Services conducting the required public health and environmental follow-up for each of the suspected cases in order to prevent and control the possible spread of chikungunya fever in the Bahamas,” the statement said.
“Persons are advised to adopt prevention measures such as avoiding mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing, and applying insect repellents to exposed areas, especially at dusk and dawn.
“Other measures include ensuring that all containers that may collect water around the home are either emptied or the water is changed frequently.”
Like dengue fever, the chikungunya virus is spread through bites by infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The virus causes fever, joint pain, headaches and a rash.
The virus, which is seldom lethal, has affected 17 Caribbean countries, including Haiti and Cuba, where the number of cases now tops 189,000, according to Pan American Health Organisation reports.