Illness levels decline in RMI

Hygiene has stepped up to new levels in the Marshall Islands, the result of community outreach and action by government agencies and partners. Students at Ebeye’s Queen of Peace Elementary School earlier this week washed hands prior to entering classrooms as part of RMI’s Covid-19 prevention practice. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

A rather dramatic announcement arrived in this week’s Pacific Syndromic Surveillance System Weekly Bulletin put out by the World Health Organization.

It reported a “seven-fold decrease” in flu-like illness in the RMI this past week.
The “seven-fold decrease” turned out to be the previous week’s seven reported flu-like illnesses becoming just one flu-like case this past week.

How could Marshall Islands hospitals report only a single case of flu in a week?
“Overall, disease-wise, the RMI has a very healthy population right now,” said Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal.

He continued: “The reason for the drop in both influenza-like illnesses cases and gastroenteritis (diarrhea) related cases is undoubtedly related to a number of factors: We have basically closed the door to the outside world so no travelers are coming into the RMI, and many local businesses, organizations and people are practicing physical distancing and hand washing and sanitizer use, and of course, EPA has done a great job in being proactive by putting hand washing stations at many locations on island, including at the hospital.”

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