Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 6

By Kal-F

The disaster of the soups does not necessarily prevent us from keeping hope alive that the rest of the meal will be an unqualified success, and when we see Alex in the distance pushing a cart with monstrously large plates, our hearts and appetites are indeed lifted to the next level.

The thrill is short-lived. As Alex starts dishing out the salads we can’t help but admire the plates; they are big, heavy even and have wonderful decorative designs but where, we wonder, are the salads? The Ceasar salad that is promised is no more than two pieces of lettuce and three bread-crumbs (perfectly square admittedly), daubed I guess because this is an upscale restaurant, with a fulsome amount of mayonnaise.

For a moment we think that the order has been misunderstood and they are convinced that we have ordered a plate of mayonnaise with two pieces of lettuce and a few bread-crumbs at the side. Likewise, what they present as a Garden Salad we see as two slices of sweet peppers, half a carrot and a pretty slice of tomato. After the second mouthful, all that is left on the plate are the nice decorations.

Some people deal with the disappointment better than others. The people at the table beside us, made up of acquaintances from Orange Hill, St. James, the village where I grew up, have decided that they will leave and advise us to do the same. They are heading for the Sun and Sea Restaurant, where, they tell us, a midnight buffet is about to be unveiled. We decide to stay and sojourn on, discovering a perk that comes with dining in the Universe Lounge: one can order as many plates as one likes. We now therefore beckon to Alex and each of us put in three more orders for salads. We volunteer to help him cart the plates: he bravely declares that it is not a problem and he can handle it.

Does Rihanna still sing? + Joe Jackson needs to sit down

Remember the days when Rihanna used to make hit music? I understand she's currently working on a new album, but it seems to me that she spends a lot of time these days sauntering around to events or hanging with friends.

Maybe she's getting a jump start on her modelling career, 'cause girlfriend looks pretty cool. I see you in your Michael Jackson-styled outfit, gloves and all, Ri-Ri....

It seems that every time I turn on my tv I see Michael Jackson's father Joe holding some press conference about his son's death/estate/kids/funeral. For a man who's supposed to be grieving he sure seems excited to be in front of the camera. And as for pimping his record label at the BET Awards...tacky beyond belief.

Joe Jackson, sit down and shut up. Don't tarnish your son's memory and legend by turning his death into a circus.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 5

By Kal-F

Unlike the Sun and the Sea Restaurant where the service is buffet style (which means that you wait in line for 40 minutes until the hundreds of people in front of you assiduously make their selections), our service in the Universe Dining Room is catered by two waiters. One of them, Alex, is from the former Yugoslavia and the other, Pedro, from Barbados.

Alex brings us the menus and gives us advice about this evening's special. The special doesn't sound very much like a special and we resort to reading the menus. Trevor and I seem to be getting perilously close to the age of geriatrics, an undeniable sign of which is that we now find it difficult to read the menus without our glasses. We also seem to be gradually losing our memories and have forgotten the glasses in our respective cabins. We now find ourselves in the hapless position of having our respective spouses read the menus to us, a situation that portends a questionable future.

Soups and salads are there for starters but since it is now after 9:00 p.m.,( half an hour after we arrived) we have all exercised a collective indiscipline by devouring the bread rolls and butter that have been offered and re-offered to us. I am almost full by the time the soups arrive.

My choice, a lovely pale-green vegetable chowder is unfortunately more appetizing in the looks than in the taste. After the second spoonful, I wonder out loud if the chef has accidentally spilled an entire container of salt into the mix or if if he is forced by limitation of time and space to scoop up ocean water to do his cooking.

Pedro, probably witnessing the more than ordinary contortion on my face, comes over to inquire how things are progressing and to my suggestion that he should advise the chef to go a lot more lightly on the salt, confides that with the present chef it is a hopeless cause, the suggestion having been made on divers occasions before, to no avail. I am thus reduced to pushing the soup aside and taking my chance with the rest of the offerings which Alex is now carting to our table.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Memories of MJ + Top 20 Fave Michael Jackson singles

Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight,
Here one day, gone one night.
Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon,
Gone too soon.

I have been trying all day to start this post. I must have erased the first few lines of this paragraph several times. I'm still not sure I can write in any coherent, fluid way about how I'm feeling right now.

I don't usually get overly emotional when Hollywood stars or musicians or any 'star' dies, and that held true when I heard of Michael Jackson's passing. I was at an appointment, and as I watched the coverage of his death on television I was just saying 'wow, this is so sad, the world has lost a true musical icon'.

When reality really hit home was this morning, when I started to listen to the all-day tribute to the megastar on LOVE 104.1 FM. All Michael, all day. As his hits reverberated on the airwaves back to back, almost every one held some significance, marked some event in my life. And I ain't shame to tell yuh, I cried.

A lot has been said about Michael Jackson over the years, both negative and positive. I don't expect that will end with his passing. Truth be told, I'm bracing myself for the conspiracies and the custody battle over his kids and his finances.

All I know, is that the most talented musical artiste, bar none, to walk the face of the earth to date is no more. Almost every song he released was a hit, the releases of his music videos were international events, the man invented dnaces that defied gravity and wrote lyrics that could stir the coldest soul.

As a tribute to this music icon, I've attempted to do the near impossible: to list twenty of my fave Michael Jackson tunes and the album they were from. When a person has been performing for about 42 of their 50 years that's a lot of songs to choose from, especially when I pretty much loved them all. Anyhoo, here goes....

20. Off the Wall - Off the Wall
19. Remember the Time - Dangerous
18. You Are Not Alone - HIStory
17. I Just Can't Stop Loving You - Bad
16. Heal the World - Dangerous
15. Happy - Music and Me

14. Black or White - Dangerous
13. She's Out of My Life - Off the Wall
12. Will You Be there - Dangerous
11. One Day in Your Life- Forever, Michael.
10. Rock With You - Off the Wall

9. Speechless - Invincible
8. Gone Too Soon - Dangerous
7. Billie Jean - Thriller
6. Human Nature - Thriller

5. Man in the Mirror - Bad
4. Cry - Invincible
3. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'- Thriller
2. Lady In My Life - Thriller
1. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough - Off the Wall

RIP MJ, your legacy will live on forever.

Images: theybf.com

The King of Pop - Gone Too Soon


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 4

by Kal-F

The Universe Dining Room is on Deck 3 and 4 of the ship. Each deck has a special name; from top to bottom: Sky, Sun, Spa, Lido, Verandah, Empress, Upper, Promenade, Atlantic, Lobby, Main, Riviera, and Zero; so while there are actually thirteen levels, the number thirteen is not used. The Medical Centre is said to be on deck Zero, the bottommost deck and the second deck, Riviera, is counted as deck one.

At 8:30 p.m., we step out of the cabin and head for the see-through elevators. As we rise we see that the Lobby Deck is teeming with people all dressed to kill, some posing for pictures standing within set backdrops that show various tropical scenes.

We step off the elevators at the Atlantic Deck and squeeze our way past another throng of people posing for more pictures and inspecting the duty- free jewellery and fragrance shops. These are probably the people who have have dined earlier because they don't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere. We walk past the Galaxy Dining Room and head to the aft of the ship to the Universe.

Everyone is already there except for Pam and Trevor. At the head of the table is Papa Smith, the father-in -law to Shelley. His name is Robert. That is also the middle name of his three sons, all of whom have other names beginning with the letter R. All of his sons still live at home, including the two who are married, so when a letter arrives addressed to Mr. R. Smith there is a family conference to decide who will open it. On Papa's right is Mamma Smith, who is probably in her late 50s but doesn't look a day past 35. She doesn't say much but see her come alive when music, any type of music, starts to play. She's up and moving and man, can she move her body!

Across from her is her second son Robert, Shelley’s husband, a handsome young man with a big dimple in his chin and a ready smile, and like his mother, hardly says a word. This evening, however, he actually speaks but in such subdued tones that Shelley, who's sitting beside him, has to translate for the rest of the table. Beside Shelley is her brother Barry, freshly arrived from Miami where he is going to university. Barry did not turn down the offer to go on the cruise when he discovered that his parents would pay for it.

Barb and I are greeted by the others as we take our seats opposite each other. We sit and while awaiting the arrival of Pam and Trevor trade stories about our experiences so far. Shelley has already discovered room service and has vowed to exploit all its benefits. By the end of the trip the workers know her voice intimately. She doesn't even have to give her cabin number. Barry has already spent time in the internet cafe and by the end of the trip they are almost about to offer him a job there.

Soon everyone is turning their glances towards the entrance as we wonder where the final two are. Papa Smith, a man of routine who goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. and awakes at 4:00 a.m. so that he can be the first to arrive in his office at 6:00 a.m. five days a week, glances furtively at his watch. He is too much of a gentleman to start dinner without them. When they finally arrive, Pam, cheerful and bubbly as always and Trevor, decked out (no pun intended) in the best outfit that I've seen him wear in years, so much so that I have to look more closely to recognise him, the mood at the table suddenly changes to one of eager anticipation to the fare that is about to be served.

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 3

Hi, all. I was pretty busy yesterday so I couldn't keep my promise of a new chapter of Kal-F's Caribbean cruise. So, to make up for that, I'm going to give you two chapters today. Enjoy.

by Kal-F

In the last four months of the year in Barbados the sun sets around 5:30. By 5:45, the twilight falls for another fifteen minutes until 6 o'clock when the law states that vehicles must have their headlights on when driving.

From deck twelve of the Carnival Destiny one can see the lights on the west coast of the island popping on. Closest to us are the warehouses of the harbour surrounded by wide, cemented open spaces where mostly red quadrangular containers temporarily await their next journey. Behind them to the left are the lights of the Spring Garden Highway (aptly named for the lack of either a spring or a garden) where the remnant of the rush-hour traffic out of Bridgetown inches its way northward.

Further away in the distance are the suburban hills: Free Hill, Hinds Hill, Cave Hill where the Barbadian campus of the University of the West Indies commands a magnificent view of the harbour and the curved contour where the west coast bends into the south coast. There are some areas where lights shine more brightly than the areas surrounding them. We surmise that one is the National Stadium where a football (as in soccer) game may be going on and the others may be cricket fields accommodating the increasingly popular night cricket games.

Our eyes shift to the right of the ship: Carlisle Bay (the concave costline south of Bridgetown named after the Earl of Carlisle to whom an English King, Charles 1, with a simple stroke of a pen gave ownership of the island in 1628) reflects the shimmering lights of The Boatyard and The Harbour Lights nightclubs, two of the most popular tourist night spots on the island.

Not very often does one get this offshore view of the island from twelve stories up. For a small island 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados almost seems vigorous: a lot of lights and an awful number of cars (100,000 at the last count). But I remember that this is Bridgetown, one of the oldest port towns in the Caribbean (it celebrated its 375th anniversary in 2003) and it is the heart of St. Michael, the most populated of the 11 parishes in the island and as Bridgetown is still the chief commercial centre of the island, it draws a great percentage of the island population into itself during the day. At night it is almost a ghost town as its dayfarers wend their way home at the supper hour.

It's close to my supper hour as well and I remember that my sister has pre-booked a set time for the ten of us in the Universe Dining Room, one of the two dining rooms where Ship's protocol stipulates that dress be formal. I say goodbye to the lights of the city and head to the elevators which, except for the doors, are all glass so that one can see the midship decks as one rises or falls to one's destination. I head to the cabin wondering whether the jacket that I have worn only three times in the last three years will still fit me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 2

by Kal-F

Actually, peoples, this isn't Day Two yet, it's a continuation of Day One. Sorry about that.

Barbados is actually the fourth stop on the Carnival's itinerary. The majority of passengers board at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and from there go to St. Thomas, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Dominica. After leaving Barbados, the ship spends an entire day at sea before entering the port in Aruba. From there it is another day at sea before entering Puerto Rican waters again.

Security on the ship seems to be tight. One enters and leaves the ship with a sign- in-sign-out card which brings up your picture and cabin number on a monitor. All packages are screened and one goes through a metal detector machine the same as at an airport.

Reboarding the ship the second time after depositing my car at home, I head straight for my cabin and decide I would have a quick snooze before dinner time. Barb is still somewhere exploring and I am able to catch a few winks before she appears with the news that she has run into Pam and Trevor, my sister and brother-in-law who have a cabin on the same deck but on the side of the ship opposite to us. She again brings up the topic of the local economy by stating that Pam was annoyed at Trevor's disinclination to hire a porter to carry her numerous bags.

This information is given in the spirit of self-vindication as in not only, "See, I wasn't the only one who wanted a porter" but also with the veiled suggestion: "Why are you guys so cheap?" The latter idea doesn't bother me as much as the awakening concern for the local Barbadian economy, so much so that I consider leaving the ship again and getting a porter to help me back onto the ship with my now empty backpack.

However, before I can voice this redemptive suggestion, Barb announces that she is off again, this time to the Purser's desk to report that the cabin safe is not functional. The worry about the local economy immediately subsides with her departure and I doze off into the comfort of the king size bed which is actually two double beds pushed together, probably with the thought that a couple not yet in their fifties would inhabit the room and regard the lack of distance between the beds as a significant asset. No longer an issue with the current inhabitants.

More tomorrow...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise

Hey, peoples. Hope all is well with you out there and that you're taking the necessary precations against contracting the H1N1 virus. Here in Bim we've got four cases, thankfully mild. Check out the GIS' website here to find out what's happening with the virus and how government is responding. I wish they would do some research on the four patients and cross-check where they've been in the last two weeks or so, but I guess that's wishful thinking....

Anyhoo, a while back I introduced you to a relative of mine, nicknamed Kal-F, who has returned to live in Barbados after many years in Canada.

In this particular segment of his adventures, he is relating his experiences on a cruise around the Caribbean with some relatives. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.:) Hope you enjoy.

A Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Destiny

Day One

Barb, who has arrived from Toronto just two days ago has already packed her duffle bag while I do some last minute mowing around the house so that the height of the grass will not overwhelm me when I get back. I get up around 6:00 a.m. and mow the grass for about two and a half hours. It takes me another hour to pack my suitcase, put the house plants where they can get some light, and pump up the front tire of the car which has been slowly leaking air for the past two weeks.

I am glad that I picked up that bicyle pump from Canadian Tire in Toronto two years ago. Overnight the tire goes completely flat and the service station is too far away to drive on it. Would you believe I have gotten it fixed twice already! The tire still has good treads on it and with the price of tires down here, I would like to get at least another year's use of it.

By 10:00 a.m. Barb's chorus (more like a plaintive wail) begins: Are we ready to go yet? This refrain will be repeated until we actually get the car out of the driveway and pointed toward the south of the island. Last minute checks: windows closed, curtains drawn, water turned off.

By 11:00 a.m. we're on our way. The plan is to check in (check-in time is between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), get our cabin, for me to drive the car back home and then take the bus back to Bridgetown, the capital city. We have plenty of time; the ship doesn't leave until 11:00 p.m. We first drive to my sister Pam to drop off her boarding pass which I have downloaded from the computer. She is still packing. Her daughter Shelley and son-in-law Robert are already on the ship. Shelley is always two hours early for everything. She certainly doesn't get that from Pam, who has never heard of the word punctuality.

We arrive at the port a few minutes before noon. I drop off Barb and the suitcases and exit the port compound to look for a parking space: I find one near Pelican Village, a local arts and crafts centre just outside the port and run into Judy whom I had not seen since 1980 when I spent a year in Barbados. She and her husband had beautifully renovated a house in Sunset Crest, a vocation village near Holetown, one of four towns on the island and where 80 British men and 10 African men, plundered from a Portuguese slave ship, had landed in 1627.

Judy's happy experience in Sunset Crest was not to last long, however. There were too many break-ins (a situation which I am told has been subsequently cleaned up). Judy has still retained her youthful looks, though much to my surprise and disappointment, has taken up smoking. (It looks like women aren't smarter than men after all). Judy and I chat for a little while. I explain my identity as I am sure that she doesn't remember who I am. After all, the last time she saw me there was hair (lots of it) on my head and my beard was black, not grizzly as it is now, a fact that makes strangers (mostly young men) on the street in Barbados address me as 'daddy': Would you like a car wash, daddy? By 'daddy' they mean 'old man', 'very old man'.

Judy and I promise to catch up now that I know where she works and I return to the port to go through Customs. There is a little hike to the ship and half-way there, Barb starts her plaintive wail: I don't see why we can't get a porter; after all , it would help the local economy. When I left home that morning I wasn't thinking much about the local economy but after she has mentioned it numerous times, I start to think that she is probably right but by now there are no porters in sight and we're almost at the ship's entrance: we have only two suitcases between us and mine, the heavier of the two, has wheels.

The check in goes quickly and soon we're on board on the third deck at the information desk awaiting our passport checks and the key cards to our cabin. Within 45 minutes we're comfortably esconsed in our second deck cabin which has a window and at the moment is on the port side of the ship. We quickly unpack and soon head up to the restaurant on deck nine to have lunch.

The restaurant is a big expansive room with an extension on deck ten so that one could look over the entire city of Bridgetown, which from the perspective of twelve stories up actually looks attractive. Service in the restaurant is buffet style and there is a wide variety of food. One nice thing about the Carnival Destiny is that smoking is not allowed indoors except in the casinos and seeing that that is one place that I will hardly frequent, I am happy.

Forty-five minutes later we're back in the cabin and realize that it is actually freezing; the air conditioning is noticeably cold and it looks like there is no way that we can adjust it. Barb decides to go exploring and I prepare to go back to shore to drive the car back home. As I leave the ship I feel a bit of raspiness in my throat and wonder if I'm coming down with something or if it's just the air conditioning. I hope and pray that I don't come down with something to put a damper on the trip. I return to the car and notice that the front tire again needs air and once again have to bring out the handy bicycle pump.

In a few minutes I'm on the Spring Garden highway heading north for St. Lucy, the most northerly parish on the island and the name that invariably evokes the response: You mean you live that far! (It's actually only 35 minutes away from Bridgetown, though you should bring along a lunch with you if you attempt it in rush hour).

On the way I take a detour to Warrens Shopping Centre a mile and a half to the east and the Glinko Biloba that I took this morning surprisingly kicks in to tell my memory to tell me that I should get some film and maybe a pack of dominoes. As soon as I enter SuperCentre Supermarket I run into Debbie, the travel agent who booked my cruise last January. We chat for about ten minutes and I don't have the heart to tell her that I am about to go on another cruise seeing that I didn't book with her this time. That won't happen again though. Her service was much better than what I received this time from my sister's travel agency. Debbie has to get to the bank and I have to get moving. We say goodbye and she promises to keep in touch. I pick up the film but forget to inquire where I can get dominoes. Must remember to increase my Glinko Biloba dosage.

As soon as I back the car into my garage, Michael, my next door neighbour, hails me, surprised that I am still on the island. I explain what the plan is and that the boat doesn't leave until 10 p.m. He kindly offers to drive me to Bridgetown saying that it would give him an excuse not to work in his garden where he has been labouring since dawn (since quitting his job six months ago he has become a full- time farmer). I accept his offer but tell him that he can drop me in Speightstown, only 15 minutes away, and I would take the bus from there to Bridgetown.

On the bus to Bridgetown my throat continues to feel raspy and I wonder where I will be able to find cough medicine at this hour. Most stores close up at 5:00 p.m. and it is now approaching 6 o'clock. Luckily when I get off the bus, a supermarket, a short walk from the port, is still open. I get the cough syrup and head for the ship.

Day Two on Monday.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Rihanna sits courtside at Lakers/Magic game

It's been a while since I've had a Rihanna post, 'cause frankly I was tired of all the drama with her and what's his name and then the leaked photos....whatev.

Anyhoo, a post about our local superstar would help to balance out the gloom of the previous one on H1N1, so here goes.

On Saturday, Rihanna took in a Lakers game against the Orlando Magic and she seems to have had a grand time.

I see Rih-Rih's still sporting the big hair. Even Halle Berry has cut hers again. Anyhoo. do your thing, girl. Just make some more music and ease of the drama....

Images: theybf.com

And then there were two...

Barbados has recorded another case of influenza A/H1N1, this time a young female unrelated to the previous case. You can read the news story here.

I know it's too early to start implementing extrme measures like limiting travel or large social gatherings, but I know that personally I plan to avoid activities involving large groups and take all the sanitary precautions. With a baby at home I'm not taking any chances.

You all be safe out there.

Image: www.cealagar.com

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some facts about H1N1/Influenza A

Hey there, peoples. I came across some facts about this H1N1 virus and I though I'd share. It's from the Barbados GIS website here

Remember to take all the necessary precautions so we can prevent this virus from spreading!

How do people become infected with Influenza A (H1N1)?
Influenza A (H1N1) is caused by a virus, similar to the common cold or the virus that causes regular influenza, but this is a new type of virus. Outbreaks in humans are now occurring from human-to-human transmission.

When infected people cough or sneeze, infected droplets get on their hands, drop onto surfaces, or are dispersed into the air. Another person can breathe in contaminated air, or touch infected hands or surfaces, and be exposed. To prevent spread, people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and wash their hands regularly.

What are the signs and symptoms of infection?

Early signs of influenza A (H1N1) are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. There must be a travel history to affected countries within 7 to 10 days or contact with someone with symptoms who has traveled to an affected country

How can you prevent the spread of H1N1?

The most effective way to prevent and control the spread of this respiratory illness is through general hygiene measures:

Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing, and dispose of the used tissues properly.
Wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing. An alcohol based hand sanitizer gel can also be effective.
Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, as the virus can enter your body this way.
In addition, using a nutritious diet, managing stress and getting adequate exercise are recommended measures for maintaining or boosting natural resistance to infections.
Persons traveling from affected regions and having symptoms should seek medical attention from a doctor and report to public health authorities if instructed. Persons with mild symptoms may be advised to stay at home and limit contact with others in order to control the spread of the infection.

Do Healthy People Need Masks?

No! The current recommendation from the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) is that masks should not be used as a prevention measure for healthy persons. The general use of masks may provide a false sense of security and it is likely that they will be used incorrectly. The prevention measures outlined above are more effective in preventing spread in the general population. Masks may be used by ill persons if they have to be out in public.

What is the treatment for persons affected by H1N1?

Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms. For mild cases the normal measures that could be used for any influenza will be employed. These may include increased fluids, rest, and medication for pain, fever and other symptoms e.g. paracetamol. For moderate to severe cases medical attention must be sought. The doctor may prescribe antiviral medication, antibiotics and other treatments according to the specific needs of the patient. Protocols have been put in place for the use of antiviral medication. Please note that depending on the severity of the illness, hospitalization will be necessary.

Is it safe to travel?

W.H.O. is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A (H1N1) virus, but persons will need to exercise caution if travelling to highly affected areas. Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts of the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.

What should I do if I think I have the illness?

If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough or sore throat:

Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds.
Rest and take plenty of fluids.
Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing, and dispose of the used tissues properly.
Wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
Seek the advice of your health care provider.

Adapted from World Health Organization
Fact Sheet on Influenza A (H1N1)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Barbados records first case of H1N1 influenza virus

Hi, peoples. Word just hit the streets that Barbados has recorded its first case of the dreaded H1N1 virus. I understand that the individual, a young man, is quarantined at home and the health authorities are urging residents not to panic and take the necessary precautions.

Here's the full statement delivered by the Acting Minister of Health, Sen. Irene Saniford-Garner, about an hour ago:

Statement by the Ministry of Health
Update on Influenza A H1N1
As you know, over the last eight (8) weeks, an increasing number of countries throughout the world have been experiencing outbreaks of a new type of influenza.

In response, the Government of Barbados has been proactive and undertook preparatory measures in anticipation of the possibility that this condition could reach our shores. The Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public that based on testing conducted by the laboratory of the Caribbean Epidemiology Research Centre (CAREC), Barbados has now recorded its first confirmed case of Influenza A H1N1 2009.

Members of the public are urged to remain calm and to note that our Public Health Officials will continue to undertake all protective measures as are needed at this time. You are reminded that simple measures, e.g. covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, along with proper disposal of tissues and thorough hand washing are the most effective measures for preventing the spread of respiratory infections. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, as the virus may enter your body this way.

Persons with respiratory type illness consisting of cough, fever, shortness of breadth and malaise should stay away from school or work and avoid going out in public or public places.

Influenza A H1N1 2009 is a viral illness that can be easily transmitted from person to person, but most persons who become ill with this condition are likely to experience only mild forms of illness. The symptoms of this condition are similar to regular influenza and include: fever, chills, cough, stuffy nose, headache, fatigue, sore throat, body aches and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

If you are ill with flu-like symptoms and especially if you have travelled to an area that is affected by Influenza A H1N1, have been in close contact with someone who travelled and was ill, or someone who was diagnosed with Influenza A H1N1, you should seek medical advice. Persons experiencing mild symptoms are encouraged to have adequate fluids and rest and may use over-the-counter medications such as Paracetamol / Panadol / Tylenol for relief of pain and fever.

If you are pregnant or suffer with certain chronic conditions, you may be at greater risk of complications and should call your health care provider for medical advice. These include asthma and other lung conditions, heart disease, diabetes and impairment of the immune system. If persons develop difficulty breathing, mental confusion or worsening symptoms, immediate medical attention should be sought.

The Ministry of Health will give regular updates and as the situation warrants. For additional information about Influenza A H1 N1 call the Ministry of Health’s hotline at: 436-2437 or 436-2444.

It was only a matter of time before the virus landed on our doorstep. The world is a very small place when it comes to viral infections; people are on the move for holidays and work on a daily basis.

I'll keep you up to date on what's happening here. All the departments and agencies Ministries involved have done the drills, but this is the real scenario here now.