MONTEGO BAY, Sept. 22 (Jamaica Information Service): The Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment is taking proactive steps in preparing players in the hospitality trade for any effects from the Chikungunya virus, which has been affecting sections of the country.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, told JIS News that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has been supporting a number of initiatives, being undertaken by the Ministry of Health, which are aimed at increasing the awareness of sector interests.

“We have had meetings with the Ministry of Health. The Tourism Enhancement Fund has been assisting with whatever can be done to ensure that the preventative measures taken in the areas for which it has responsibility, are being done, and whatever collaboration we can do, we are doing,” he said.

Dr. McNeill said that so far, the industry has been spared the effects of Chikungunya, but noted that the work towards awareness about the virus must continue.

He noted that the effects of the virus are being felt across the entire Caribbean with the region now on a “Chikungunya watch,” and he expressed confidence in the Health Ministry’s programmes to increase awareness and contain its spread.

“I believe that the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible in terms of its awareness programme…they are trying to do the prevention…so what we have to do is to continue those programmes and at the same time keep a watch…certainly from our side with tourism as our central thing,” Dr. McNeill said.

The Ministry of Health reports that as of September 21, there were 35 confirmed cases of Chikungunya, with another 352 cases being reported, and an additional
27 negative cases being returned from the laboratory.

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