HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed yesterday that there has been a second case of measles in the country — this time in a 10-year-old tourist.
Dr Sands added this tourist has been “quarantined” and poses “no threat” to anyone else.
This child is the elder brother of the four-year-old who was also confirmed to have measles in late February. The four-year-old marked the first confirmed case of measles in The Bahamas in over 20 years.
When asked whether there have been any new cases of measles or chikungunya, Dr Sands said: “Yes. We now can confirm that the brother of the first patient developed signs and symptoms of measles.
“But that child was quarantined and has posed no threat to any additional person,” he continued.
Dr Sands confirmed the case of measles in the four-year-old on February 21.
He noted the timeline of travel and illness onset strongly suggest the child’s exposure to measles occurred prior to his arrival in this country.
At the time, Dr Sands said: “The child continues to do well and is expected to recover fully. This is the first confirmed case of measles in the Bahamas since 1997 and is imported.
“The public health surveillance team is carrying out necessary activities to assess risk of exposure in potential contacts.”
Dr Sands also said at the time that the Ministry of Health is currently conducting a campaign targeting all children ten years and younger as well as front line workers such as police, customs and immigration officers, healthcare workers and hospitality industry workers.
The aim is to increase the national MMR coverage in children and people at highest risk for exposure.
The number of children receiving the MMR1 vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella has also seen steady decline. As of 2016, only 89 percent of children received this vaccination. It is also the lowest rate dating back to 2012.
Regarding chikungunya, Dr Sands said yesterday there have been no new cases. Last month, one case of the illness was confirmed in New Providence.
Dr Sands gave this information while speaking to reporters outside a Problem Gambling and Addiction Awareness Month Seminar at the Public Hospitals Authority yesterday.
He also discussed the recent assessment of clinics in Andros, saying decisions are being made regarding funding.
When asked if there have been any updates with the clinics, Dr Sands said: “We were just there last week and in North Andros two weeks prior to that. So the architect and the contractors are finalising the plans, we are verifying the presence of the mobilisation funds that have already been spent and determining what additional funds we have to put to that for the scope of work outline, but we expect to make some headway.”
The health minister also said officials are still consulting on the implementation of a “sin tax,” noting no final policy has been made yet.
Regarding this initiative, Dr Sands said: “We have had ongoing discussions with our health partners, our local and regional health partners, we have had discussions in principle with the Ministry of Finance, but no final policy decisions have been made.
“Certainly, the Ministry of Health has been discussing the impact of a sin tax on the reduction in sugar consumption as a positive. A tax perhaps to reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption also would be considered beneficial in terms of health outcomes. But that does not translate into any specific policy or fiscal decisions that have been made.”