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Mar 31, 2015

10:30:10 GMT--Biological Hazard - Caribean Area - Jamaica

EDIS Number: BH-20150331-47557-JAM

Date / time: 31/03/2015 10:28:23 [UTC]

Event: Biological Hazard

Area: Caribean Area

Country: Jamaica

State/County: Capital City

Location: Kingston [University Hospital of the West Indies]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: 2 person(s)

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: N/A

Damage level: N/A


The psychiatric ward at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) has been quarantined for two weeks due to concerns about the possible spread of chicken pox. Hospital sources, who told the Jamaica Observer that three patients have so far shown symptoms of the virus, said the facility was being fumigated and that new psychiatric cases that need to be admitted are being referred to Bellevue Hospital. Family members who turned up on the weekend to visit relatives at the psychiatric ward were told that no visitors were being allowed as the staff wanted to ensure that the disease does not spread. The Observer has also learnt that some patients on the ward have been vaccinated to protect them against the virus. Up to press time, the hospital's CEO Dr Cecil White, through his administrative assistant, was only able to say that he was carrying out his own investigations, and that information regarding the situation would be provided "as soon as it is ready". In the meantime, repeated efforts to ascertain from the Ministry of Health whether it was aware of the situation were unsuccessful. A ministry representative had initially said she was not aware of the matter but would enquire. The development comes amidst ongoing concerns about a measles outbreak in the United States which, up to the first week of March, had spread to 17 states. The measles scare had pushed the Jamaican Government to launch a $54.4-million prevention campaign, which is to run until May 2015. That campaign aims to improve immunisation coverage in the island, particularly to mitigate against measles in children and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral illness that mainly presents with itchy rashes, or blisters all over the body, and can, according to medical experts, cause serious problems for people whose immune systems are compromised, such as newborns and pregnant women.

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