…no knowledge of woman being sent back from Trinidad
By Lakhram Bhagirat
As fear continues to mount over the possibility of the coronavirus reaching these shores, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle, on Wednesday confirmed that Guyana is currently monitoring nine persons who recently returned from China.
She noted that the monitoring of these persons, who are all believed to be students who were on scholarships in China, is routine and there is not cause for panic.
“We are monitoring nine persons… (We are doing so by taking) daily temperatures, registering (them) with nearest Health Centres and the personnel from the Health Centres have been monitoring them. Our Surveillance Officers will be visiting them to just make sure we do contact tracing and so on,” Dr Gordon-Boyle said.
“We have no concerns about them carrying the virus or anything of that sort. Remember China is doing exit screening so nobody having symptoms of anything can leave. That’s the first and when they come here they are being screened again and once they are allowed to pass through it means because they have no symptoms. We are just observing them for two weeks to make sure and telling them to stay home and not mix with people,” the Deputy CMO told Guyana Times during a telephone interview on Wednesday.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.
The WHO, which declared a global health emergency owing to the rapid spread of the virus, advises that standard precautions should be taken. These include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
It was reported, in some sections of the press, that a medical student recently created some sort of mayhem at the Diamond Diagnostic Centre at Diamond, East Bank Demerara after she was told that she would require additional screening. The student arrived in Guyana via Suriname from China.
It is reported that she is currently at home with her family and one of the nine being monitored by the local authorities.
Denied entry into Trinidad
The recent statistics from WHO, as of Wednesday, indicate that there have been some 24,554 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, inclusive of 3925 new cases. In China alone, there have been 3893 new cases with over 500 deaths. Outside of China, there are 191 cases of the virus in 24 countries—Belgium being the latest to report its first confirmed case and one death.
Because of the fear of the virus, countries have been taking precautionary measures with most of them denying entry to persons travelling from the ‘coronavirus zone’, unless those persons are citizens or residents of the country they are travelling to.
Based on that restriction, the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration authorities denied entry to a female passenger who arrived at the Piarco International Airport on a flight from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana. The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reports the island’s Chief Medical Officer detailing the circumstances surrounding the denial of entry to the woman and subsequent return to Guyana.
CMO Dr Roshan Parasram, according to Guardian Media, related that the woman would have travelled through territories such as Hong Kong and New York before arriving in Guyana and subsequently Trinidad. He notes that based on the travel restrictions and Immigration Laws, she was sent back to her port of disembarkation – which was Guyana.
However, over in Guyana, there seems to be some miscommunication since the authorities here have no idea of the woman being sent back. Deputy CMO Dr Gordon-Boyle said she is totally unaware of that situation ever occurring since none of their port officials reported such.
“None of our ports have reported anything like this. I have heard about it but we do not have any information to that effect,” she reiterated.
When asked how strong are Guyana’s systems that have been put in place to screen passengers originating from the ‘coronavirus zone’, the medical professional indicated that it meets the standards required.
“We have to rely on the Immigration Officers going through the passports to rule out the person being in China. If the person has been in China and they are exhibiting no signs, they still have to be screened by our Port Health Officers and our Port Health Officers are not reporting any cases of anybody being turned back from Trinidad. At least we are not hearing about it,” she explained.
The Public Health Ministry implemented a number of measures, mainly screening at ports of entry, in order to assess the health of those entering.
Meanwhile, WHO is reporting that some US$675 million would be required to maintain a new coronavirus preparedness and response global plan.
In a report on its website, WHO said that The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus lays out activities and resources needed by international health organisations globally, including WHO, to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to nCoV-2019 for a period February-April 2020.