Health Minister Under Pressure

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There’s mounting pressure on Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson this afternoon over his handling of the outbreak of chikungunya in the island.

The pressure intensified today with news that a Camperdown High School student may be the first fatality of the virus that’s now rampant throughout the island.

Word also came today that the Health Minister is to address the nation this Sunday evening on the outbreak of chik-v.

Dr. Ferguson is now changing his position on the extent of the damage being wreaked by the Chukungunya virus in the island.

From as early as September 10, the Opposition Spokesman on Health, Dr. Ken Baugh and the JLP caretaker for Eastern St. Thomas, Delano Seiveright, were telling the Minister that Chik-V had reached crisis proportions in the eastern end of the island.

But Dr. Ferguson downplayed those remarks, instead accusing both men of scare mongering.

Dr. Fergsuon insisted that his Ministry was on top of the situation and sought to reassure the nation that there was nothing to worry about.

As the reports of the scores of children and teachers in St. Thomas who were becoming ill with Chik-V related symptoms, started pouring in, the Minister finally appeared to take the warnings seriously.

On September 11 he appeared on Cliff Hughes online on Power 106 to calm fears about the growing number of people who were seemingly afflicted with Chik V.

Dr. Ferguson said at the time that his numbers suggested no more than 71 cases of the illness in the island.

But as more and more reports of Chik-V illnesses started flooding in, the Health Ministry was forced to defend its management of what is an unfolding crisis.

Earlier this week the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey, conceded that Chik-V is here to stay in Jamaica.

Dr. Harvey noted that up to 60-percent of the population, or 1-point-7 million people could be afflicted by the virus.

The Health Minister, who continues to defend his leadership on the issue, is set to make a broadcast to the nation about the extent of the spread of Chik-V in the island.

That broadcast is set for 7 Sunday evening.

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