Extensive Testing for Zika Continues

Health Minister, Horace Dalley, says the Government is awaiting word from the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, in Trinidad on whether any of 27-blood samples sent from Jamaica have tested positive for the Zika virus.

Minister Dalley made the disclosure at a Jamaica House media briefing this morning.

Minister Dalley told the media briefing that the four year old boy from Portmore in St. Catherine, who was the country’s first confirmed case of Zika, has now recovered.

He says more checks are being done to determine if there are any more Zika cases in the island.

According to Minister Dalley, 15 samples have been collected from persons in the same Portmore community where the four year old boy is from.

He says those samples have been sent to CARPHA for testing, with the Ministry also awaiting an update on 12 additional samples.

Minister Dalley says in the next few weeks a lab at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies should be ready to test samples locally for Zika.

He says so far, his Ministry has spent $164-million of its $200-million budget, in getting ready for Zika.

According to Minister Dalley a budget prepared by former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse which said $527-million is needed to prepare for Zika, took into consideration the expected financial contributions from other Ministries.

Meanwhile, Minister Dalley says the Government is unable to say whether the first case of Zika originated in Jamaica or Texas.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry issued a statement in which it noted that the infected child, “began showing symptoms on January 17, after earlier returning to Jamaica from travel to Texas in the United States.”

But the US media have since quoted health authorities in Texas, who say to date, there has been no local transmission of Zika in the state.

Minister Dalley says the Government was obliged to state the child’s travel history.

And the Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey says investigations are underway to establish whether there are mosquitoes in the island, carrying the Zika virus.

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Abka Fitz-Henley is a multiple award-winning journalist who is currently the Senior Reporter at Nationwide News Network (NNN). His primary areas of focus are Court, Crime and Parliamentary proceedings. Fitz-Henley was recently recognized in the regional celebrity magazine publication Panache as “The Breaking News Boss”. At 21 years of age, following his 1st year in media, Fitz-Henley was recognized with the Young Journalist of the year award from The Press Association of Jamaica and went on to cop one of the country’s highest recognized journalism prizes, the Journalist of the Year Award. He’s also been awarded the prestigious Corporate Jamaica Broilers Fairplay 1st place Award for investigative journalism and is the recipient of the Caribbean Blog Award for coverage of the infamous Kartel murder trial. Fitz-Henley is also the recipient of the PM Youth Award for Excellence. Over the years, he has appeared as a guest on the BBC World Service and BBC London.