…quarantined, under ‘home monitoring’
By Navendra Seoraj
THE Ministry of Public Health has confirmed that ten persons, who recently returned from China, are under “home monitoring,” as government continues to be vigilant at the ports of entry, in light of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and other countries.
This was confirmed by Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr. Karen Boyle in an invited comment, on Wednesday.
Reports had surfaced that a Guyanese medical student returned to Guyana from China, via Suriname, on Tuesday, but Dr. Boyle said she was unaware that the person came from Suriname.
“I am not aware of that…someone, however, came in at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport last night and she is quarantined at home,” said the DCMO. This person added to the nine others who have already been placed on home monitoring.
In explaining what home monitoring means, Dr. Boyle said: “they (the quarantined individuals) are required to stay at home and be isolated from the rest of their families…they are also required to use the necessary precautions and not leave home for 14 days.”
When asked if any of those persons showed symptoms of the Coronavirus, Dr. Boyle said all ten persons showed no symptoms, but just as a measure of caution, they have been placed under home monitoring until the 14-day incubation period is over.
According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The outbreak started in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Providence, China, in December 2019. The source of the virus has not been confirmed. There is a world-wide effort by scientists to develop a vaccine.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, coughs, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
The novel Coronavirus has been detected in two countries in the Region of the Americas, but no case has been detected in the Caribbean-Sub Region of the Americas. “Let me assure the Guyanese pubic that all efforts to maintain vigilance and monitoring of the virus are in place,” Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, said on Tuesday.
“We have put several measures in place and have increased surveillance at the country’s ports of entry with strengthened specialised training in all categories of workers,” she said.
The minister further indicated that the situation is being addressed at an Inter-Ministerial level with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) being the focal point.
Port health authorities at the main official points of entry have commenced screening of all travellers from high-risk countries, who will be monitored for 14 days by the MoPH officials as stipulated by the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO). Among the menu of measures put in place by the MoPH officials was to conduct follow-up assessments via telephone calls and through daily visits over a two-week period on all persons who travelled from China to Guyana over the last month, to check on their state of health.
“While this virus started off in China, as a Region, we are flagging all high-risk countries,” Lawrence said. In ensuring that Guyana remains safe from the disease, the Guyana Government had also taken a step to close its Embassy in Beijing.
The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), in view of the novel Coronavirus, has also stipulated that international vessels docking at the Port of Georgetown and Berbice, will be required to provide a crew list and their nationality; the vessel’s last port of call; and the shore leave of the crew within the last 21 days, to the administration. “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,” said MARAD.
Crew with recent travel history in Hubei, Wuhan, or with People’s Republic of China (PRC) passports will not be allowed entry into Guyana. Also, vessels that refuse to comply with the aforementioned instructions may be denied entry into the country’s waters.