The world remains on high alert as countries struggle to deal with the outbreak of the Coronavirus that has now spread from China to as of closure of our paper on Wednesday, 23 other countries.
Grenada has not been spared the panic and health officials here are taking all of the necessary actions to protect persons here from the possibility of infection from the potentially deadly virus.
Opening Tuesday’s Post-Cabinet Briefing, Press Secretary Philomena Robertson told the media that since the outbreak of the Coronavirus a few weeks ago; concerns have been growing because of the rapid growth of the numbers of those affected and the continuing spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has now categorized the outbreak, which has its epicentre in the Chinese province of Wuhan, as a global health emergency.
The local Ministry of Health is working in collaboration with other bodies including the Grenada Airports Authority, taking decisive actions to prevent the virus from reaching our shores.
Head of the Epidemiology and Surveillance units, Ministry of Health, Dr. Shawn Charles explained that protocols have been established to screen passengers of interest entering into the country. He said once a passenger of interest has been identified protocols will determine where that passenger embarked, what route the passenger took, where the passenger was previously screened and depending on the results of the screening, health officials do temperature checks, survey for symptoms along with detailed travel history. If the history is compatible with travel to China within the past fourteen days, if the person has no symptoms then that individual is quarantined. He noted that there are facilities already set up for quarantine.
“We are not conducting any self-quarantine but mandatory quarantine that is under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. Additionally, if a person has symptoms then that person would be isolated and treated. Persons that are under quarantine would be monitored throughout that entire process for fourteen days with continuous temperature checks and observation for symptoms”.
Dr. Charles continued that once the fourteen-day period has elapsed and the person shows no symptoms or did not develop any signs of the diseases then that person is cleared. If at any point that person develops symptoms they would become a case, then protocols will be followed that involves treating a case. He noted that all the processes are being set up so that authorities would be able to capture someone from entry and monitor them right up to whatever the outcome would be.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Martin informed the briefing of the state of response to Coronavirus within the region administered by the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the leading agency for guiding health in the Caribbean as it relates to this public health threat.
He said that the Caribbean Public Health Agency has taken some key action that includes setting up an incident management team. It held virtual meetings with all the chief medical officers within the region and other officials, submitted & circulated situation reports to the Caribbean and has coordinated with CEDMA on those issues.
CAPA, he added is currently putting together very serious technical documents that will guide the response in the region, which speaks to how travellers should be interacted with, management of suspected cases, guidelines for ports of entry as well as the risk assessment in the region.
“We may not be able to keep the Coronavirus out of our region for very long because of the globalization but we can certainly decrease the impact of it if our response is coordinated,” Dr. Martin said.