Cabinet to discuss coronavirus plan today

On the heels of a coro­n­avirus scare in Ja­maica on Tues­day, Min­is­ter of Health Ter­rence Deyals­ingh will go to Cab­i­net to­day for ad­vice on how T&T should treat with pas­sen­gers on in­com­ing flights. He con­firmed the move while speak­ing on the Morn­ing Brew yes­ter­day.“How do we deal now with in­com­ing air traf­fic? There are var­i­ous op­tions. I took the de­ci­sion on Sun­day night that this now needs Cab­i­net in­ter­ven­tion and Cab­i­net would be re­ceiv­ing my in­for­ma­tion to­mor­row (to­day) and hope­ful­ly some sort of de­ci­sion would be tak­en to­mor­row (to­day) as far as trav­el is con­cerned”.There is glob­al con­cern over the mys­te­ri­ous coro­n­avirus which has now spread to 15 oth­er coun­tries af­ter first be­ing record­ed in the Wuhan province of Chi­na.Deyals­ingh de­clined fur­ther de­tails on the kind of trav­el re­stric­tions that may be un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, be­cause he didn’t want to “pre­empt Cab­i­net.” He said he would place his trust in the Cab­i­net to ad­vise him how to move for­ward.
The virus has been de­tect­ed as near to T&T as the Unit­ed States while Ja­maica had a scare ear­li­er this week fol­low­ing which their Min­istry of Health called a press con­fer­ence to dis­miss the ru­mours. On Tues­day re­ports cir­cu­lat­ed that a man who re­cent­ly trav­elled to Chi­na was ad­mit­ted to the Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal of the West In­dies show­ing symp­toms of the virus. How­ev­er, Med­ical Chief of Staff at the Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal at Mona, Dr Carl Bruce in­di­cat­ed af­ter fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion the pa­tient’s symp­toms did not meet the cri­te­ria for the virus.The out­break of the virus prompt­ed the US State De­part­ment to urge trav­ellers ear­li­er this week to “re­con­sid­er trav­el to Chi­na.” How­ev­er, while there are no of­fi­cial trav­el ad­vi­sories from lo­cal gov­ern­ment agen­cies, Min­is­ter Deyals­ingh yes­ter­day gave his own ad­vi­so­ry to T&T na­tion­als, echo­ing that of the US.“I am urg­ing every­one that is think­ing of go­ing to Chi­na for non-es­sen­tial trav­el to please not go. It is not in your best in­ter­est to go to Chi­na at this point in time. That is a trav­el ad­vi­so­ry I can give out,” he said.Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the Min­is­ter on the pro­gramme was Coun­ty Med­ical Of­fi­cer of Health, Dr Os­afo Fras­er, who said all the coun­try’s screen­ing sys­tems are in place at ports of en­try.“Since we start­ed scan­ning last week Tues­day, we’ve scanned over 16,000 pas­sen­gers and over 200 flights. We’re do­ing that around the clock,” he said.This virus is on­ly the lat­est pub­lic health threat to T&T, al­beit a very low threat as pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed by the Min­is­ter of Health. With­in the past 10 years, there have been sim­i­lar threats such as a flu pan­dem­ic, Chikun­gun­ya, Ebo­la, In­fluen­za, and Zi­ka. But what the coun­try did not have is a warn­ing sys­tem ded­i­cat­ed to pub­lic health threats which could pri­ori­tise them so cit­i­zens could un­der­stand where con­cern should be placed. This is why Deyals­ingh said he would al­so be car­ry­ing a note to Cab­i­net to­day to es­tab­lish such a sys­tem.“You know like how we have a warn­ing sys­tem for hur­ri­canes or flood­ing,” he ex­plained.


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