Guyana's Ministry of Public Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle says the country’s port health officials have been alerted and sensitised how to spot “signs and symptoms” of the coronavirus that has killed 80 persons, so far, and sickened thousands of others.
“As a precaution, “any person experiencing fever or flu-like symptoms should visit the GPHC (Georgetown Public Hospital) or the nearest Regional Hospital,” Dr Gordon-Boyle said.
She says early this week training programmes targeting key staff including Port Health officers, Immigration officers and Customs officers will be conducted by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).
Dr. Gordon-Boyle says the Infection Control and Prevention Committee of the GPHC is ensuring that the tertiary institution is ready to care for any infected person.
She says so far, a screening tool, a questionnaire used to gather detailed information on the onset and natural course of illnesses of persons suspected of having coronavirus.
The corona virus is related to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer says as a precaution, any person experiencing fever or flu-like symptoms should visit the GPHC or the nearest Regional Hospital.
Other symptoms of the ailment include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat fever and a general sense of being unwell.
Patients can develop pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and in severe cases, even death.
While the incubation period for affected persons is still not known, it is advised that patients be isolated from the healthy population for some 10 to 14 days.
In the event that a person shows up with the corona virus, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are being asked to support with the testing of samples, Dr Gordon-Boyle said.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, visited the Piarco International Airport accompanied by the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram, the County Medical Officer of Health Dr. Osafo Fraser, to gain a first hand perspective of the utility of the Thermal Screening Equipment, both hand held and fixed. The Minister expressed his satisfaction with the current protocols and procedures in place.
This equipment is being used as part of this country’s Infectious Disease Protocol and will be employed in the Government’s efforts to detect the possible entry of persons who may be displaying symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus. These scanners are also in place at the nation's major air and sea ports including the Port of Port of Spain and the Port of Cedros.
In Jamaica, the Ministry of Health and Wellness said visitors can expect screening to include thermal scanning and data collection of appropriate travel history, signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, and any history of contact with a confirmed case or anyone having fever and respiratory symptoms.
“Any suspected case of this novel coronavirus — whether identified at the island's ports of entry or health facilities — will trigger a cascade of activities, including notification of the various levels of the health system and preparation of receiving facilities, as well as the mobilisation of required resources,“ the Jamaica Health ministry said in a release Friday.
In Barbados, The Ministry of Health and Wellness has started to put measures in place to respond to any threat to public health which may be caused by the new type of coronavirus, first reported last month in China.
The respiratory illness, which originated in Wuhan City, has since been identified in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Australia.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, told a press briefing today that the virus posed no direct threat to Barbados at the moment, but the Ministry remained alert because of the potential threat.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George stated that arriving passengers from these regions will be screened by officers at the ports of entry. Those without symptoms will be required to leave their contact information so that they can be followed up within the next 14 days, while those with symptoms will be directed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further management.
Globally, there have been 440 confirmed cases of patients with pneumonia blamed on the new strain of coronavirus. The authorities said that many of the patients are residents of Wuhan or visitors who recently went to the city.
Thailand and Japan have also confirmed at least one case among tourists who visited Wuhan. Early last week, the US CDC announced the first case in the USA.
The outbreak of the virus has been linked to Wuhan South China Seafood City, also called the South China Seafood Wholesales Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market. Chickens, bats, cats, marmots, and other wild animals are also available for sale in that market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak.
So far, the WHO has been counselling hospitals around the world on infection, prevention and control. However, the global body has “advised against travel or trade restrictions at this time based on available information,” a statement said.
Other international public health institutions such as the US CDC, China CDC, and European CDC are working on the design and eventual distribution of diagnostic kits to other countries. “In any case, it is expected that a consensus test will potentially be available at least some weeks from now,” the release said.
CARPHA in a prepared statement said it “does not recommend at this time to conduct entrance screening (temperature screening) at ports of entry. Passengers would already have been screened when exiting the Wuhan area and upon arrival in the US,” the Regional body said in a release.
“Member States are recommended to capture information on travel history using the Passenger Arrival Card or surveys, for all new arrivals. Arrivals that have recently travelled to China, especially to the Wuhan area, should be questioned for symptoms and advised to be vigilant for onset of those symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention at a public health facility. Passengers should be advised to seek medical care as soon as symptoms arise,” CARPHA said.
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