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By Theresa Goodwin

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The Ministry of Health, acting on the advice of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda, is exploring the possibility of developing a national influenza immunisation programme for the country.

Health Minister Molwyn Joseph made the disclosure on state television Thursday night, noting that it is intended to reduce incidences of influenza.

According to Joseph, while the country seeks to contain the spread of Covid-19, health authorities will still have to monitor the common influenza season, dengue fever and other flu-like ailments.

He said that these related issues will put a strain on the health system, because both Covid and influenza manifest with similar symptoms.

“You are likely to see in Antigua and Barbuda, anyone who gets the flu, people will deem it Covid. We are now preparing to see how we can deal with that phenomenon where many people will get the flu and think it is Covid and rush to the hospital for care.

 “Every year we get influenza vaccines from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) which is administered in limited amounts; private citizens would also get the influenza vaccine through their physicians. Cabinet is thinking that we should expand this programme to reduce the incidences of influenza through the national programme,” Joseph said.

A further statement on the matter will be forthcoming within the coming days.

As it relates to Covid-19, Antigua and Barbuda has not recorded any new cases of the virus in over four weeks.

Of the 25 cases of the virus that were reported weeks ago, three people have died while 19 have fully recovered and no longer require medical care.

Of the three remaining patients, the minister said, “Two are in the hospital with two consecutive negative tests, and they are doing very well; we are optimistic that they will regain their strength will be restored, and then they will leave the hospital. In Antigua and Barbuda, we have only one case, and a test was sent off on Friday,” Joseph said.

The minister stressed that this news in no way means that the nation should become complacent or let down our guards.

Antigua and Barbuda will reopen its borders on June 1.

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