The Health Services Authority has said it continues to see more patients heading to the hospital with influenza symptoms.

“The number of flu cases reported [since the start of] 2020 continues to increase, similar to other jurisdictions which are experiencing higher than normal activity,” the HSA and its

Public Health Department said in an emailed response to queries from the Cayman Compass Tuesday.

The flu season generally runs from October to April.

So far, Public Health said, it has received an average of 176 cases of influenza per week since the beginning of the year.

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“We ended the year 2019 with 6,474 cases, averaging 125 cases per week. This is still on average higher than our usual threshold of 95-115 cases per week,” it said.

Last month, the HSA opened a dedicated flu clinic at the George Town General Practice Clinic for people with flu symptoms who need medical assistance.

“We are seeing approximately 270 cases of respiratory tract infections reported within the last two weeks in February,” Public Health said in the email.

The growing number of cases is prompting the department to change the location of its designated flu clinic.

“With the rise of flu cases and to lower the risk of sick patients being with those who are well, we will be moving our flu clinic to a separate location on the hospital campus. This will be relocated from the [General Practice] clinic to the new location soon,” the department said.

It is unclear where it will be moved at this time, but the HSA said a public notice on the new location would be issued.

The authority has also started a 24-hour hotline number, 1-800-534-8600, for callers with flu symptoms or who have recently travelled to a country with confirmed cases of coronavirus, to speak to a health professional.

“Callers will be advised on what they should do (i.e., come to the hospital, stay home in quarantine, etc.). We have also started an email [email protected], which is monitored by Public Health,” it said.

NEOC activation essential
Last week, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson partially activated the National Emergency Operations Centre following discussions with Cabinet.

Public Health said this activation means that more agencies and departments are coming together to consider “ways to prevent, prepare for, and if necessary, respond to/contain and recover from COVID-9”.

“These activities are all being conducted in a highly strategic and coordinated way, that ensures the highest levels of Government are part of the decision-making process, along with the private sector and NGOs, and that the activities are done in a way that is efficient and focused, so the impacts to the health of the public, and the economy (if the virus arrives) are minimized,” it added.

The NEOC activation, it said, empowers HSA/Public Health officials, by providing “all the legal, regulatory, financial, logistical support and any other resources to the Public Health Department and the Health Services Authority to effectively provide care to the residents of the island in the event of an outbreak in the Cayman Islands”.

While Public Health/the HSA is the first response agency for COVID-19, the implications of the virus are broader than just health-related matters, Public Health said in its statement.“The NEOC structure ensures the country is appropriately prepared, and (if needed) that there is a coordinated and efficient response to counter and recover from the threat,” it added.

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