Sunday, July 19, 2009

Influenza A/H1N1 Update from the Minister of Health Trinidad & Tobago

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. July 19, 2009

The following is a statement from Minister of Health, Senator, The Honorable Jerry Narace, on the current state of H1N1 in Trinidad and Tobago:

"I wish to inform the national community on the latest developments of the H1N1 virus locally and globally and renew my call to all citizens to be on alert and follow closely all guidelines and preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Health assisting us in our efforts to slow any potential community spread of the Influenza A H1N1 virus.

Since a pandemic has been declared, we have noticed in the beginning a peak in the public's interest in the matter and a concern over both preventive measures and the clinical management of the virus. Lately, however, we are afraid that some of our fellow citizens have been complacent and therefore I would like to take this opportunity to stress that this is not the time to let our guard down and be negligent. On the contrary, given the international circumstances and the rapid spread of the virus globally, we need now more than ever to be cautious and follow proper hygiene and respiratory protocols. The H1N1 virus is still a serious concern and we all ought to treat it as such.

International Situation

If we reflect on the international situation, according to the last update released by the World Health Organization on July 6th, 135 countries had reported 94,512 laboratory confirmed cases globally, with 429 deaths connected to Influenza A H1N1. And according to the Director General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, the virus's “further international spread is unstoppable”.

You might have also heard that in the UK twenty nine (29) deaths have now been recorded, with 55,000 new H1N1 cases reported just last week. The British government has also warned that deaths from H1N1 this winter could be between 19,000 and 65,000 in the UK, although experts say it is impossible to predict exactly.

While the widely affected Mexico in the northern hemisphere has seen H1N1 cases decreased, the peak of the flu season is approaching in South America and Argentina has declared a public health emergency. Paraguay has reported its first fatality, while in Central America El Salvador has also recorded its first death. In the Caribbean region, two countries, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, have reported two deaths each.

Change in reporting practices

The World Health Organisation has described the pandemic as the fastest-moving one ever. In fact, in a statement on July 16, 2009, WHO explained that “the 2009 influenza pandemic has spread internationally with unprecedented speed. In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks”.

Given this spread, WHO communicated to all member countries that it will no longer publish the tables showing the number of confirmed cases for all countries. It also indicated that countries are no longer required to submit regular reports of individual laboratory-confirmed cases and deaths. This is because the reporting of such numbers has been deemed no longer effective as a monitoring tool.

The Ministry of Health abides by WHO guidelines and as such has stopped reporting all of its confirmed H1N1 cases to WHO, but we will continue to report on a weekly basis our qualitative assessment of the situation, based on WHO guidelines.

Nevertheless, surveillance, monitoring, recording, analyzing and proper follow up of H1N1 cases continue as normal and under the given high alert mode that has been adopted since the declaration of the pandemic. Therefore, we will continue to report to the national community the confirmed cases of H1N1 locally.

Trinidad and Tobago Update

Thus far in Trinidad and Tobago the Ministry of Health has recorded an accumulative ninety seven (97) laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza A H1N1. Of these cases, ninety six (96) people have been cleared and have returned to their normal activities. Currently we only have one case that is still pending but recovering well. It is also important to note that all cases to date have been mild and all affected persons have recovered well.

Appeal to citizens

That is why I renew my call and appeal once again to all citizens to follow all recommended preventative measures to contain the spread of the virus.

I hope by now all of us are familiar with the respective guidelines:

Follow proper hygiene and respiratory practices
Avoid contact with people who have respiratory illnesses
Follow the Ministry's guidelines on mass gatherings, which are available on the Ministry's website or by request at our hotline 800-WELL (9355).
If you have a flu-like illness, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to avoid infecting them; and delay your travel
Seek official information by the Ministry of Health through its communication channels, including the 800-WELL hotline and our web site.

Anyone who develops flu-like symptoms and has traveled or has been in contact with a person who has traveled to the affected countries in the past seven (7) days should IMMEDIATELY visit his or her nearest health center or doctor.

Further actions by MOH


Going forward the Ministry of Health continues all its heightened activities related to pandemic response.

The Ministry is also examining preliminary proposals by private companies for H1N1 vaccines, which are expected to be available by the end of the year. The Ministry will be making a decision over the purchase and dissemination of vaccines once more information becomes available and according to WHO/PAHO guidelines and international best practice.


Additionally, in preparation of the fall season when schools will reopen, we shall be issuing special protocols in conjunction with the Ministry of Education of which of course we will notify you in due time.


Ladies and gentlemen, at this time we know that:

we are in the middle of a pandemic, the first pandemic after 41 years;

the H1N1 virus is a new virus and as such it is still being studied by international experts and there is no way of knowing how it will evolve and whether and how it will mutate;

We also know that this pandemic is the fastest moving ever;

However, thus far the overwhelming majority of patients experienced mild symptoms and made a full recovery within a week, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment. [The exception seems to be pregnant women and people with underlying health problems, who were at higher risk from complications from the virus.]

Nevertheless, severe and fatal cases can occur both in healthy people and people with underlying conditions.

We are confident that if we all work together and continue practicing good sense in our behaviors, we will be able to mitigate the impact of the pandemic virus and protect one another from this serious threat.

I thank you."

Senator the Honourable Jerry Narace
Minister of Health - Trinidad and Tobago

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Do Brands Really Matter?

In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”
- Warren Buffett

Approved Contribution From "Early To Rise" Online Magazine
By John Forde

Ad agency guys love brands. They love brand-driven advertising too.

On the website for Ogilvy & Mather, the agency founded by legendary ad man David Ogilvy, I once saw the phrase “We’re all about brands.” Poor old Ogilvy probably did a double-tumble tailspin in his grave.

As readers of Early to Rise know, I love to trash the whole idea of brand marketing. And I’m not alone. The entire direct-response industry leans away from it.

It’s just not in our blood. And not for no reason.

Brand-based marketing logic, after all, is the planning you see behind all those Super Bowl commercials that make you laugh but sell nothing.

It’s the thinking behind sleek, wordless billboards and print ads that leave you scratching your head. (”Hmm,” you say to yourself, “I feel vaguely sexy… and crave salted pork products… but I have no idea why.”)

But the main reason we in the measurable, quantifiable world of direct response reject the strategy of introducing a product based on brand is because it is usually a long, laborious, and not measurably effective process. And, far too often, an exercise in self-adulation. But not much more.

However - and you’d better sit down for this - it turns out there’s at least one area in the world of direct response where… yes… even yours truly can spot some value in pumping up the profile of a product’s brand.

Not just a small area. A huge one. Very big.

How so?

How E-Mail Relationships Change Everything

Used to be, every marketing piece that went to your target customers was in an envelope, sent cold to a rented list. Your prospect didn’t know you from Adam.

Brand mattered little, because you had little footing with the prospect in the first place. Benefits and features, instead, told the story.

Then we started marketing online.

You can’t do cold e-mailing online, because that’s what we call sp*m. So the best and brightest e-mail-driven businesses went about it another way.

First, they built relationships with their prospects. With e-zines. With product fulfillment and digital extras delivered to inboxes. With membership sites that brought visitors in free, then kept them coming back for more.

And what’s more important in e-mail marketing than getting a recipient to open your steady stream of e-mail missives? Nothing. Without that, your efforts are sand on a sea turtle’s back. Going nowhere in a hurry.

The relationship is what gets the e-mail opened. The relationship is what gets the e-mail read. The relationship is what makes way for the sale. And that relationship is based on… yep… a kind of “brand” trust that surrounds you or your organization as the source of that e-mail.

The Power of the T-Factor

In short, you’re counting on your name… which IS your “brand”… to carry enough “T” factor (Trust) to keep the reader from clicking “delete.”

The best way to earn any kind of noble brand status, in e-mail or anywhere else, is via the quality of the product itself. Online, that means quality content. Content that informs. That entertains. That gets results. Or at least shows the reader how to get results.

Occasionally, that can happen in a single flash of brilliance. More often, it happens as a trickle. Over time.

First, there’s the e-zine or the valuable online report. There also might be a website, full of content and trustworthy testimonials.

Then there’s the respectful treatment. The lack of sp*m. The html that doesn’t take forever to download. The ideas never heard or seen elsewhere.

A thank you note for sign-ups. Delivery that actually sticks to the promised mailing schedule. And so on.

Until the reader can’t wait to hear what you have to say next. You’ve become part of his online “family.” A member of his inner circle of trust. And that’s where you reap the rewards.

You can now endorse products you’re pretty sure your readers will want. And if you’re right, they’ll even buy.

Continuing to offer them good products deepens that trust cycle. And your brand takes on an even brighter shine. Every subsequent sale, even for higher-priced stuff, gets that much easier.

Of course, bungle it and you’ll lose your brand power pretty darn fast. But there’s no denying it - the deeper this cycle goes, the more valuable that idea of a brand becomes.

The new customer becomes the loyal customer. Ready to spend more, too. Not just a little, but often by multiples. And you’re soon selling lots of specialty items to your serious fans.

This is where fortune building begins.

Yet again, a lot of this depends on how well you lay the groundwork… on having quality information to offer your prospects, right up front.

And that has to happen long before the marketers and copywriters come along.

[Ed. Note: To get more of copywriting expert John Forde's wisdom and insights into marketing (and much more), sign up for his free e-letter, Copywriter's Roundtable. Get a free report about 15 deadly copy mistakes and how to avoid them when you sign up today.

This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, a free newsletter dedicated to making money, improving health and secrets to success. For a complimentary subscription, visit

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