Jul 9, 2009HHS to fund $350 million for state preparednessThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to rapidly distribute $350 million that Congress recently provided for pandemic efforts by states, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today. Speaking at a federal “flu summit,” Sebelius said HHS will announce the funding tomorrow. She said $260 million will go to state health departments for general and vaccine efforts and $90 million will go to hospitals for surge capacity. “We hope to push the money out the door by July 31,” she said.[HHS pandemic flu Web site]Thailand, Argentina launch community mitigation measuresThailand’s government has ordered more than 1,000 schools to close for 15 days starting Jul 13 and has asked Internet cafes, popular with youth, to close during the time to curb the spread of pandemic flu, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported today. Elsewhere, Argentina will close financial markets and banks tomorrow to slow the spread of the virus, Reuters reported yesterday. It encouraged private businesses to do the same. Today is a national holiday in Argentina.[Jul 9 ABC story]Tanzania, Zimbabwe confirm first novel flu casesTanzania’s health ministry today confirmed the country’s first novel H1N1 case, a British student who arrived in the country about a week ago and told immigration officials he felt sick, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Also, Zimbabwe’s state media today reported the country’s first two cases, an Asian man who had recently arrived from London and a squash player hospitalized in South Africa, the Kenya-based Daily Nation reported. It’s unclear where the player was infected.[Jul 9 AP story]New Zealand: flu season eclipses 12-year highAn official with New Zealand’s influenza center said today that flu activity has reached a 12-year high point and predicted the season hasn’t peaked yet, Bloomberg News reported. A flu surveillance report released today for the week ending Jul 5 notes that novel H1N1 makes up 80% of circulating flu strains in New Zealand, an increase from the 48% reported in the previous week’s report.[Jul 9 Bloomberg News story]Japan quarantines American university student groupJapanese health officials quarantined 20 American university students Jul 3 after two of their Japanese instructors were diagnosed as having novel flu, the AP reported yesterday. Authorities are monitoring the students’ health, but so far none have shown any flu symptoms. The students are from California colleges, and the quarantine is scheduled to end tomorrow.CDC updates home care guidanceThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday updated its guidance on caring for people who are sick with novel H1N1 flu at home. The revision incorporates interim guidance on facemask and respirator use that the CDC updated in late May. The updated home care guidance suggests that all caregivers, not just those in high-risk groups, who must have close contact with a sick person try to use a facemask or N-95 disposable respirator. The update also lists where to buy the items.[Jul 8 CDC home care guidance]
MINISTER of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Sport, Dr George Norton, was on Friday reassured of Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) commitment to Guyana.This assurance was given by the newly elected president of CWI, Mr Richard Skerritt, in light of the circumstances surrounding the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB).“You have a strong partner in development, we want to see the continued development of cricket in Guyana,” Skerritt said.The meeting, which was held at Minister Norton’s office, also comprised CWI’s Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave; CWI’s Development Manager Fawwaz Baksh; along with the Director of Sport, Christopher Jones and Assistant Director of Sport, Melissa Dow-Richardson.At the meeting Minister Norton congratulated Skerritt on his recent appointment, expressing confidence in the development of West Indies Cricket.Norton was particularly persistent about the hosting of the Regional Under-19 Tournament in Guyana.“I believe this would really go a far way in inspiring young cricketers, and that is what we want, young Guyanese to nurture their talents and make their country, and the West Indies proud,” the Minister opined.The meeting discussed the challenges involving the GCB and ways of minimising its impacts on the hosting of international tournaments here in Guyana. The most immediate of these being India’s Tour of the Caribbean, which is scheduled to begin in August.In this regard, given the current situation, Minister Norton has given his commitment to ensure that CWI is equipped with all that it needs to successfully host these matches in Guyana, with agreements for India’s Tour being confirmed by the Government of Guyana.The meeting also discussed the development of cricket programmes for youths in grassroots communities and the hinterland regions.To this end, Skerritt informed the meeting of CWI’s intention to develop the sport using approaches that will allow for greater productivity in West Indies cricket.“We want to have a bottoms–up approach. Especially when it comes to youths in the rural areas; they are always so appreciative and willing to work with what is provided,” Skerritt said.Assistant Director of Sport, Melissa Dow-Richardson also emphasised the need for CWI to ensure that its programmes are geared towards gender parity.Skerritt responded favourably, noting that the CWI is certainly becoming more gender-conscious.As the meeting wrapped up, Skerritt lauded Guyana for its Cricket Administration Act.However, Skerritt pointed towards the speedy reconciliation of issues surrounding the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) as integral.“As far as the Act is concerned, Guyana is way ahead of many other countries, it is important to properly regulate sports. It just needs to sort out this situation with the GCB,” Skerritt said.Meanwhile, following Skerritt’s meeting with Guyana’s cricket stakeholders on Thursday, Claude Raphael, (former CWI Director and National Selector) speaking on behalf of the stakeholders, told Chronicle Sport that Skerritt’s immediate concern is the legality of the GCB which would pave the way for a bigger and brighter partnership with CWI.Raphael revealed that Skerritt noted Guyana’s sterling contribution and partnership with CWI in recent times, something that has not gone unnoticed. However, due to the illegality of the GCB at present, that issue would have to be fixed for the CWI to move forward hand-in-hand with Guyana’s cricket administration.