to deal with coronavirus
Caribbean L 16 ife, February 7-13, 2020
CARICOM takes measures
By Bert Wilkinson
Some Caribbean Community governments
have begun to take drastic measures
to prevent any cases of the deadly
Corona virus raising its head in this
highly travel-sensitive region, with some
refusing entry to
and Hong Kong.
In the past
head to toe in
suits have in
many parts of the
region taken the
arriving from that
part of Asia.
As an example
of the tight
authorities at the
requests for landing
of 19 Chinese
Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II
nationals who had
arrived at the mainland in the capital,
Kingston. At midweek, medical teams at
Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport
turned away a Guyanese female transiting
the country from Hong Kong out of
The Guardian newspaper quoted Chief
Medical Officer, Roshan Parasram as saying
that while the woman showed absolutely
no symptoms of the virus she was
rejected because of current travel restrictions
“I don’t know what flight she came in
from but I only know of that woman who
came in from Guyana and she would have
spent some time at our airport waiting
on departure back to the port of call,”
he said. “I believe she would have gone
through other territories, including Hong
Kong, New York and Guyana and then to
Trinidad. Based on our travel restrictions
for persons leaving China within 14 days
of departure, she was returned to the last
port of call based on the cabinet note and
the immigration laws.
Jamaican Health Minister Chris Tufton,
meanwhile, said the 19 were screened,
placed in quarantine and put back on an
outbound flight on Saturday as regional
health officials work overtime to keep
the virus out of the tourism dependent
And Jamaican national who also flew
in from Asia was immediately placed on
lock down and will be monitored continuously
until being cleared by doctors.
“We have no confirmation yet of coronavirus,
but she was held out of an abundance
of caution. The patient who landed
in Jamaica on January 30 reported no
history of cough, sore throat, shortness of
breath, vomiting, muscle pain or diarrhea.
Further, the patient’s vitals, including
blood pressure, pulse rate, blood oxygen,
and temperature all registered normal.
does not, therefore,
for novel coronavirus,”
ministry said in a
as a precaution,
has been put in
isolation and will
remain in isolation
As an indication
of how panicky
the region is,
meeting on Monday
response to the global epidemic. One
thing clearly emerged from the meeting
and that is the virus must be prevented
from touching down at all costs.
In that regard, several Eastern Caribbean
states have refused to allow the
European-owned Aida Perla Cruise ship
to dock after reports surfaced some of
the more than 2000 passengers on board
had reported respiratory tract infections.
Authorities in Antigua, St. Lucia and
Dominica said ship officials had not provided
medical teams with sufficient information
in a timely manner to allow the
vessel to berth at ports.
But begging to differ and to take a different
route, Vincentian Prime Minister,
Ralph Gonsalves did approve a berthing of
the ship, saying there are other ways than
outright denials of landing.
“We have to act sensibly with the protocols
and don’t panic. “There were 23, I
think 23 persons, who had some kind of a
virus. But they were isolated on the ship.
They were crew members and some passengers.
Port Authority simply contacted,
as we will do always, the public health, the
chief medical officer, medical officer of
health. All the entities involved and dealt
with that problem so that you allow those
who wanted to come off and could come
off, but those who had to be isolated were
isolated on the vessel,” he said.
Until the spread is contained, regional
authorities have vowed a full court press
of surveillance to ensure the virus stays
out of the region. The issue will likely
be an agenda item at CARICOM leaders
meeting in Barbados later this month.