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Paraguay: Governmental Response to Arrival of H1N1 Virus

In the past few days, new cases of the AH1N1 virus have been confirmed in Paraguay. The cases are citizens who have just come back from trips to Argentina, a place which has now become one of the main sources for the virus transmission in Paraguay. The total people infected rose to 25 according to ABC Color newspaper [es]. So far, there have not been any deaths linked to the virus, and all the people who became infected with the virus presented only symptoms of the normal seasonal flu.

A group of five infected students attend the private school “Santa Clara,” based in the capital, Asuncion. Apparently, the information about the cases detected in the private school was not disclosed until one of the infected students had already recovered from the virus symptoms. Government authorities have said that the names of schools with infected students will not be disclosed to the public. This tightly guarded attitude from health officers and the school’s authorities concerns some citizens. Blogger Mabel Rehnfeldt of El Dedo en la Llaga [es] addressed the situation, both as a journalist and as a mother:

Me pregunto qué pasa con el derecho a saber que tenemos los padres de colegios afectados y no afectados para poder ejercer el deber de precautelar a otros niños y niñas sanos/as?

Un especialista epidemiólogo, de los mejores que conozco en el país, pidió que se socialice la información, que se colectivice. Aquí no se trata de satanizar ningún colegio -mucho menos dar identidades de los pacientes por el tema de la confidencialidad obligada por el juramento hipocrático- es apenas INFORMAR a la opinión pública en qué colegios ya hay casos sospechosos.

I wonder what is happening with the parents’ right to be informed about the schools that are affected and the ones that are not in order to be able to protect the other healthy children?

An epidemiological expert, one of the best I know in the country, requested that the information be widespread and collected. This is not about demonizing any school – neither to disclose the identities of the patients, because of the confidentiality required by the Hippocratic Oath- it is just about INFORMING the public in which schoolS there are suspected cases.

In contrast with the scarce efforts placed in spreading the information about which schools have the virus, the government is enforcing the implemented measures, such as border control to prevent the spread of the AH1N1 virus in Paraguay. This is what journalist and blogger Gloria Rolon says about her experience [es]:

Es que al descender del avión y abandonar la manga de desembarco, la recepción que le dan a uno es sencillamente sorprendente. Todo, pero absolutamente todo el personal en tierra luce impecables tapabocas y guantes de látex.

Confieso que no sé si las medidas en cuestión serán efectivas o no para evitar un contagio masivo, pero debo reconocer que lo que al principio fue una sorpresa para mí, luego se transformó en una agradable sensación de satisfacción con la tarea desplegada por las autoridades sanitarias en Paraguay.

When I stepped off from the airplane and left the departure area, the reception that one gets is simply amazing. Everyone, but absolutely all of the land personnel look flawless with masks to cover their mouths and latex gloves.

I confess that I don’t know whether the measures are effective or not to avoid the contagion, but I must recognize that what at first was a surprise for me, later became a nice feeling of satisfaction towards the work done by the health authorities of Paraguay.

The swine flu was declared a global pandemic on June 11, 2009. This is the first time in 41 years that the World Health Organization declares the existence of a worldwide pandemic.

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