News Releases

Response to Enquiries about Exposure to H1N1 Virus at UWI SPEC

For Release Upon Receipt - June 18, 2009

St. Augustine

In response to enquiries from the local media and other concerned persons, the St. Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies wishes to advise that on Monday 16, June 2009, UWI and UWI SPEC (Sport and Physical Education Centre) officials contacted medical officers at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt. Hope. This was in light of confirmation that members of the Surinamese volleyball team which had taken part in a recent tournament at the UWI SPEC had tested positive for the H1N1 Influenza A virus.

On Tuesday, officials from the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Unit, visited the SPEC to interview staff and to share information and answer questions on the potential risk of exposure to the virus. Symptomatic persons eligible for lab investigation were sent for testing and in keeping with the national advisory issued by the Ministry of Health, any other persons who were exhibiting flu-like symptoms were advised to remain at home for a period corresponding to 10 days from date of onset of these symptoms in order to prevent the spread of ANY respiratory illness (whether H1N1 or otherwise).

To date there have been NO confirmed H1N1 cases among the UWI staff and student population. Health officials further advise that anyone who may have been exposed to the virus at UWI SPEC during the course of the tournament, and has not yet displayed any flu-like symptoms, has not been affected as they are now well beyond the end of the incubation period.

A mechanism has been established at the UWI Health Service Unit for screening staff and students and an advisory has also been issued to staff and students. The UWI SPEC remains open but users and the wider community are advised to follow the guidelines for good personal hygiene put forward by the Ministry of Health and previously circulated to staff and students on the campus as we continue to monitor the situation in close collaboration with officials from the Ministry.

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Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.