The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) will be denying entry to crews from ships with recent travel history in Hubei or those that hold a People’s Republic of China passport, as cases of the recently-discovered Coronavirus continues to cross international borders.
According to MARAD, all international vessels coming into the Georgetown and Berbice ports will be required to provide documentation of the crew list and nationality, and their last port of call.
Additionally, the crew members from these vessels who are unwell, experiencing respiratory symptoms or those associated with the fever should inform the master of the ship in order to seek immediate medical attention.
The Maritime Department has clearly outlined that vessels refusing to comply with these instructions may be denied entry into Guyana’s waters. Meanwhile, assurances were made that the situation will be monitored to implement additional measures if necessary.
“Crew with recent travel history in Hubei or with People’s Republic of China passports will not be allowed entry into Guyana…Ship crew who feel unwell, experience respiratory symptoms or feel feverish should inform the master of the ship immediately. The Master of the ship should then contact his ship’s agent and make the necessary arrangements to seek medical attention,” MARAD stated.
Meanwhile, during a recent engagement, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley spoke on the Caribbean Community’s preparations to tackle the virus, should it reach this part of the world. Health Ministers from Caricom member states would have been briefed by the Pan American Health Organisation and the Caribbean Public Health Agency as the region builds its defence.
“History has shown that panic does not assist in the resolution of these matters and therefore, the region will take an evidence-based approach that will be measured to the appropriate risk that we face. It is against that background that I expect that that group will have to meet urgently in the near future again,” Mottley informed.
As of Tuesday, 427 deaths were recorded worldwide. At that time, the latest death was recorded in Hong Kong, making it the second one outside of China’s mainland.
Statistics have shown that there are some 20,708 confirmed cases in 28 countries with the fatality rate still being assessed.
While definite conclusions are yet to be determined, symptoms detected in the outbreak include fever and difficulty breathing. With the use of chest radiographs, medical practitioners were able to find lung infiltrates.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has since issued travel advice, indicating that travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention prior to their trips.
“As of 27 January 2020, human-to-human transmission has been confirmed largely in Wuhan city, but also some other places in China and internationally. Not enough is known about the epidemiology of 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about the full clinical features of [the] disease, the intensity of the human-to-human transmission, and the original source of the outbreak,” the WHO stated.
The WHO has recommended that exit screenings be conducted at international airports and ports in the affected areas, so as to make early detection while also minimising interference with international traffic.
Further, travellers who had contact with confirmed cases or direct exposure to potential source of infection should be placed under medical observation. High-risk contacts should avoid travel for the duration of the incubation period of up to two weeks.
There were suggestions to implement health information campaigns at points of entry to raise awareness of reducing the general risk of acute respiratory infections and the measures required, should a traveller develop signs and symptoms suggestive of infection with the 2019-nCoV and how they can obtain assistance.