Ministry of Health and Wellness Issues Guidance on Novel Coronavirus

Interim Guidance on Novel Coronavirus for Travellers January 29, 2020

This document provides information on Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) prevention and preparedness for travellers coming to Antigua and Barbuda, travellers from Antigua going to an nCoV affected country and travellers returning to Antigua from an nCoV affected country. This information is based on currently available scientific evidence and expert opinion and is subject to change as any new information becomes available. This document has been adapted for Antigua and Barbuda from guidelines provided by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Key Points

 There is an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that cause diseases including the common cold, and temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”  Initially, most patients were linked to a large seafood and live animal market, which was closed by Health officials on January 1, 2020, for cleaning and disinfection.  Person-to-person spread is occurring in the Wuhan community, increasing the risk of international spread by travellers.  The immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general public in the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, remains LOW.  Travellers to Wuhan, China, should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and contact with sick people.  Travellers from Wuhan to Antigua and Barbuda may be asked questions about their health and travel history upon arrival.  This notice will be updated as more information becomes available on the outbreak.

Background The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment in Antigua and Barbuda is closely monitoring the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei

Province, China. The outbreak which started in December 2019 is reported to have affected more than 11,000 persons up to 28 January 2020. The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment is working closely with regional and international public health agencies to respond to this health threat and provide timely advice and assistance to the population.

What is Novel Coronavirus? 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 (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What are common signs and symptoms of infection? Common signs and symptoms on 2019-nCoV of infection include:  Fever  Cough  Shortness of breath  Breathing difficulties  Other flu-like symptoms
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

How is it transmitted? Currently, the source of the outbreak is yet to be identified. Early information found samples from the environment in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan City, but several of those infected did not visit the market. While we don’t know the routes of transmission of 2019-nCoV, from what we know about other coronaviruses, they are mainly transmitted by:  large respiratory droplets and direct or indirect contact with infected secretions  other coronaviruses have been detected in blood, faeces and urine; and  there have been some instances when airborne transmission of other coronaviruses was thought to have taken place through exposure to aerosols of respiratory secretions and sometimes faecal material.
Since this is a newly discovered virus, this information will be updated as more information becomes available.

Section I. Guidance for Travellers coming to Antigua and Barbuda

To date, there have been NO reported cases of 2019-nCoV in the Caribbean region, including Antigua and Barbuda. The risk of a case being imported to the Caribbean remains low. However, the report of the 56 confirmed cases in 114 countries outside of China (as of January 28 2020), emphasizes the potential for international dissemination of the virus via commercial air travel. Travellers must therefore take all necessary precautions when travelling. Although there have been no cases of 2019-nCoV in Antigua and Barbuda, travellers to our shores are advised to:  Stay informed about the nCoV situation in any countries they may be travelling to.  Practice general infection control measures, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette.
Travellers coming to Antigua and Barbuda from a 2019-nCoV affected country may screened on arrival and quarantined


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