KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 11, 2020 (CMC) – Jamaica has recorded its first imported case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, provided details, at a press conference at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in New Kingston, yesterday.
Dr. Tufton pointed out that the patient is in isolation at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston.
“The patient is a Jamaican female, who had travelled from the United Kingdom, which has cases of COVID-19. She arrived in the island on March 4, presented to the public health system, on March 9, and has been in isolation since then,” the Minister noted.
“Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, health professionals suspected COVID-19. A clinical sample was collected and sent to the National Influenza Centre, where laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis, yesterday, at approximately 11:00 a.m. The patient and family members have been informed,” he added.
The Health Minister said the patient’s infection was travel-related, and steps are being taken to prevent the risk of community spread, which includes the dispatch of a health team to the home of the patient for assessment and initiation of public health measures; the identification and contact tracing for all possibly exposed persons, and a meeting of Ministry officials with members of staff at the hospital and the necessary interventions put in place.
He noted that the Ministry of Health and Wellness is urging the public to adhere to infection prevention and control measures, notably, to maintain a distance of at least one metre from persons, who are coughing or sneezing; frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands, thoroughly, with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser if hands are not visibly soiled; cover mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then discard it; and resist the habit of touching the face.
Additionally, he said imposed travel restrictions remain in place for China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, Spain, France and Germany.
Dr. Tufton also noted that he has met with officials in Jamaica, who represent these countries.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and I met this morning with the Ambassadors of those countries, together with the Ambassador for the EU, and have informed them that, based on the risk assessment of community spread of the virus in those countries, that travel restrictions would be imposed,” he said.
The Minister also advised that with Jamaica’s first case of the COVID-19, public gatherings are discouraged and non-essential travel is discouraged.
“We continue to patrol irregular border crossings. Sensitisation of key personnel at all airports and seaports is ongoing. We have designated four quarantine facilities and others will be identified. We are finalising the retrofitting of isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals,” he said.
Dr. Tufton said a COVID-19 Response Advisory team has already been named, which will support the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ planning and coordination, with respect of this public health challenge.
The members include Former President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Howard Mitchell; CEO, Sagicor, Christopher Zacca; Former Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington; Jamaica Baptist Union, Rev. Devon Dick; Deputy Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI, Dr. Marina Ramkisoon; Commander, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Wenyss Gorman; Lieutenant Colonel Sydney Powell, JDF; and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Jamaica Constabulary Force, Calvin Allen.