Jibrilu Outlines Anti-Zika Plan


Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu yesterday revealed details of the government’s four-pronged anti Zika-campaign.
Jibrilu touted the efforts of public and private sector entities to help prevent Zika, including the Ministry of Health, the Department of Environmental Health Services, the Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and tourism related entities.

“It is important that we stay focused and keep fear at bay. There is no need to [fear], because we have a plan that we have implemented even prior to the very first case of Zika in The Bahamas. It is no doubt due to the early implementation of that plan that today we have so few cases of Zika, even though one case of Zika is too many,” she said.

The first prong of the plan deals with surveillance at all ports of entry. She said a special surveillance program has been adopted by hotels, with a system of reporting and rapid follow up.

The second and third prongs involve vector control and a “robust” public awareness campaign.

The campaign, according to Jibrilu, would help to communicate the risks of the virus.

She noted that the public awareness campaign is also extended to visitors.

“Upon arrival at the airport, they receive a pamphlet on Zika with recommendation on how to stay safe from Zika infection. Throughout their stay, at their hotel, they are made aware of how to keep safe from Zika contamination,” said Jibrilu.

The final aspect of the plan is medical care. Jibrilu said, “Our healthcare providers in both the public and private sector are on high alert to respond to individuals presenting any symptoms of Zika.”

Meanwhile, Jibrilu said it is still too early to tell if the few recorded cases of Zika in New Providence has had or will have any impact on travel bookings to The Bahamas.

So far, there are eight confirmed cases of Zika. However, Jibrilu said that The Bahamas remains a safe zone where all stops have been pulled out to curtail the spread of the Zika virus.

The Bahamas along with other Caribbean states that are impacted by the virus have received travel alerts from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDEC) and the Canadian government. Jibrilu explained that the CDEC issues three levels of travel alerts to places where there is an outbreak of Zika.

The first level, ‘Watch level one’, advises to practice usual precautions if travelling to an affected area. The second level advises visitors to practice enhanced precautions.

And, the third level warns visitors to avoid non-essential travel.

The Bahamas has received a level two alert from the CDC, along with most of the Caribbean and Latin America.

“We have a complete picture of what we’re up against from a tourism standpoint. [We are] ensuring that we arrest the situation so that we either go back down to watch level one or remain where we are for the moment,” said Jibrilu.

The Nassau Guardian
Published: September 6, 2016