The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment is very concerned about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) confirmation of the discovery of novel coronavirus in China. The virus, as we are all aware, has now spread to other countries including the United States of America. There are no known or suspected cases of infection in Antigua and Barbuda.
We are monitoring the situation very closely and have developed a plan to mitigate any effects in Antigua and Barbuda. The main objective of the plan is to ensure the health and well-being of our citizens and residents here and abroad.
Our plans, which are guided by the World Health Organization, include:
- The establishment of multi-stakeholder Coronavirus Task Force to include representatives from the Ministry of Health, Mount St. John’s Medical Center, Immigration and Customs, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Works and others.
- The identification of areas for quarantine and isolation of cases and exposed persons.
- Establishing links with students and other nationals who are currently residing in China.
- Allocating resources to procure necessary equipment and supplies for early detection and infection control such as thermometers, masks and gloves.
- Ensuring that health care providers are informed and equipped to respond appropriately.
The situation is rapidly evolving and the Ministry of Health’s response will be adapted as needed. The Ministry’s team maintains in constant communication with regional public health institutions who are providing technical advice and support. These include the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office for WHO.
I wish to take this opportunity to reinforce to the general public at this time that two of the most effective measures to prevent coronavirus infection and general infection control are frequent handwashing with soap and water and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
I wish to reiterate that the government is deeply concerned and will use all its resources to protect the health of citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda as well as visitors to our country.
We applaud the efforts being made by the Chinese government and we have established a communication link with the Embassy here in Antigua on this important matter.