NewsS1602_1_PXGJ6PastorMKTHE Ministry of Education has reported a significant increase in the number of St Thomas students and teachers who have been afflicted by symptoms similar to that of the mosquito-carrying chikungunya virus.
According to the ministry, approximately 697 students and 60 teachers were absent from 25 schools in the parish yesterday, as they were suffering from flu-like symptoms, joint pains and rashes.
The ministry’s disclosure came in the wake of a Jamaica Observer report Tuesday citing mass illness at schools in the parish. At Yallahs Primary alone, close to 200 students and 10 of its 40 teachers were out on Monday with similar symptoms. Among the sick are the school’s principal and two vice-principals.
Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson led a tour party, including personnel from the education ministry, to the school.
“…Yallahs Primary is one of those institutions that have been significantly impacted by both teachers and students having these symptoms,” the minister said yesterday.
“In this particular school, we have seen very unusual (developments) in terms of the numbers, and this would be for me great concern,” he added, noting that other illnesses, such as dengue, carry similar symptoms.
In a statement issued late yesterday, the Ministry of Education said that, although no mosquito-breeding site was detected at the school, it was fumigated.
Meanwhile, member of Parliament for Western St Thomas James Robertson, who also toured the school, said that he was concerned that productivity in the parish was being affected.
He said that a number of man hours had been lost due to the mass sickness and that he was concerned that the situation may affect students’ preparation for end-of-term examinations.
— Kimmo Matthews


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