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Some health centres to extend opening hours amid dengue outbreak

Some health facilities are extending their service and opening hours as Jamaica grapples with an outbreak of dengue fever. 

Director of Health Services Planning and Integration in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Nadine Williams, says the move is aimed at increasing health care access to tackle the rise in cases of the mosquito-borne disease. 

Starting next Monday, October 2, children under 18 years who visit the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) will not be charged a fee or be required to pay for the services at the facility.

All Type 3 to Type 5 health centres islandwide will remain open until 8 p.m.

In addition, Dr. Williams said the National Health Fund will provide resources to undertake dengue mitigation strategies at the community level. 

These activities will include support for the removal of bulky waste and drain cleaning exercises across the country. 

She said the National Health Emergency Operations Centre as well as emergency operating centres in all parishes have been activated and are having weekly meetings. 

Dr. Williams noted that the country has recorded 565 suspected, presumed and confirmed dengue cases up to last Friday, September 22.

She said the number of confirmed dengue cases in Jamaica has risen to 78. The cases were identified in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas.

"The dominant strain is dengue type 2, which last predominated in 2010. The majority of these cases are children between the ages of 5 and 14," she reported.  

The Ministry of Health is investigating six dengue-related deaths.