Local health officials have stressed the need for residents to get vaccinated against the flu, as the newly opened flu clinic is seeing up to 200 cases per week.
Public Health Surveillance Officer Timothy McLaughlin-Munroe told the Cayman Compass Tuesday that Cayman had a “very active” flu season in 2019 and it has continued in 2020.
“Looking at the current trend, we are on par with last year which was very active, and … as we are seeing 170-200 patients [a week], it was imperative to implement the flu clinic in General Practice once again,” McLaughlin-Munroe said in an emailed statement.
He said Cayman ended 2019 with 6,474 cases of influenza-like illnesses – an average of 125 cases per week.
“This is still, on average, higher than our usual threshold of 95-115 cases per week,” he noted.
McLaughlin-Munroe hastened to add that the weekly cases of flu-like illnesses varied from week to week throughout the year. “The lowest number of cases reported to the Public Health Department per week in 2019 was 50 cases, [while] the highest was 224 cases,” he said.
The temporary flu clinic was opened at the George Town General Practice Clinic at the beginning of February after Public Health reported a higher-than-usual number of patients presenting with flu-like symptoms.
The clinic also serves to keep patients with flu-like symptoms away from the general patient population to minimise the risk of infection, and is part of Cayman’s response efforts to the global coronavirus outbreak.
As of 18 Feb., the World Health Organization reported that more than 73,332 cases of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, had been confirmed, The death toll in mainland China stands at 1,870. A total of 25 countries have reported coronavirus cases.
The Health Services Authority, in response to queries from the Compass about the temporary clinic, said there has been a positive response to the flu clinic, with patients continuing to utilise the service.
The HSA said its flu vaccine outreach continues at supermarkets, and is available at workplaces on request.
The vaccines are also available at all health centres.
Director of Primary Health Care Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez urged members of the public to get their flu shots.
“To decrease the spread of the flu, we continue to advise the public to get vaccinated and practise infection control measures, such as frequent hand cleansing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser; covering nose and mouth with tissue or a flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing; and avoiding close contact with people suffering from the flu or any acute respiratory infections,” he said.
Flu clinic information:
The HSA flu clinic operates from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, with a dedicated physician to manage and treat patients showing symptoms of the flu.
Informational signage, face masks and hand sanitisers have been placed at the entrance of all health clinics for patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea, though this is more common in children than adults.
- *It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
–Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)