Health officials suggest precautions but decline to close down Palmares

Even though 17 persons have been listed now as having died of swine flu, the national health authorities have decided not to cancel large gatherings.

One of the biggest this month is the Fiestas Palmares, which runs from next Wednesday to Jan. 25. This is a major event second only to the Zapote Christmas fiesta.

To cancel the fiestas would be a major financial blow to the community of Palmares and also to those who plan to set up businesses there. And health officials have discounted fears of an epidemic. Those who died had other complications, including the three new cases announced Thursday.

But the Ministerio de Salud has come out with some rules that are designed to reduce the spread of disease, including the AH1N1 swine flu virus.

Although not mentioning Palmares, the Ministerio de Salud said Thursday that those firms that set up stands at large events have to make sure that there is adequate hand-washing facilities for both employees and the public.

Organizers are on notice that they must provided ample palmares010816sanitary facilities and garbage containers.  The ministry also is requiring the use of alcohol gel.

The ministry has put out a colorful poster showing the correct way to wash hands, and firms, such as the ones selling food and drink at Palmares, are requested to post it. The poster also advises that those sneezing should cover their face.

The ministry inspects such facilities and has the power to shut them down for health violations.

The Palmares event features a horse parade, international-level entertainers and a half marathon Jan. 23. It is organized by the Asociación Civica Palmareña, which has a Facebook page HERE!

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