CARICOM Gets Ready to Deal with Coronavirus Outbreak
Some Caribbean Community governments have begun to take drastic measures to prevent any cases of the deadly coronavirus raising its head in this highly travel-sensitive region, with some refusing entry to passengers arriving from China and Hong Kong.
According to a news report from the Associated Press posted on Caribbean Life, in the past week authorities dressed from head to toe in hazardous material suits have in many parts of the region taken the ultimate precaution by quarantining and turning away passengers arriving from that part of Asia.
As an example of the tight restrictions in place, Jamaican authorities at the weekend rejected requests for landing of 19 Chinese 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 severe precaution.
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 from China.
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 region.
And Jamaican national who also flew in from Asia was immediately placed on lockdown and will be monitored continuously until being cleared by doctors.
As an indication of how panicky the region is, regional health ministers convened an emergency Skype meeting on Monday to develop a harmonized 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.
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.