No Coronavirus here

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has silenced rumours that there was a case of the new coronavirus on the island, while detailing plans to guard against its entry into the island.

“There is no truth to the claim that there is a case of the new Coronavirus at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI),” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton speaking on Tuesday at a press conference hosted on the subject at the Ministry’s head office in Kingston.

This was verified by Dr Carl Bruce, the UHWI’s Medical Chief of Staff, who said the alleged case had not met the case definition for the new coronavirus. What is more, Bruce explained that the steps taken to rule out the coronavirus had been done out of an abundance of caution, given that the individual had recently travelled to China.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is making every effort to guard against the entry of the virus to the island, including enhanced surveillance at the ports of entry, the sensitisation of health care professionals and public education.

Further, the Ministry has advised the exercise of extreme caution in contemplating travel to and from China where in December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City. The virus did not, however, match any known virus.

Subsequently, in January 2020, the Chinese authorities confirmed it was a new virus, determined to be coronavirus – similar to the virus that causes the common cold, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).

Common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. More severe infections can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. 

The WHO’s report of January 26, 2020 indicated that the number of reported confirmed cases of the virus is 2,014, distributed on the Chinese mainland and territories.

It is against this background that persons in China who plan to travel to Jamaica are asked to defer those plans. At the same time, those in Jamaica who plan to travel to China are also asked to postpone.

For persons already in transit to Jamaica from China, the island’s quarantine protocols will apply, with travelers to be quarantined in a health facility or at home, depending on the result of risk assessment done.

Recent travelers to China already in Jamaica are being surveilled. In the event, they develop symptoms, such individuals will be quarantined. In lieu of a visit from a public health official, such travelers are asked to visit their nearest health centre or hospital.

Those who must travel to and from China are advised to take precaution against becoming ill by avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections; and frequently washing hands, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment.

Travelers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should also practice cough etiquette, that is, maintain distance from others, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and also frequently wash hands.