Student returns to T&T from China: I was screened, cleared

Three days af­ter Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh an­nounced a 14-day trav­el re­stric­tion on ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers from Chi­na, a lo­cal stu­dent has re­turned home and was re­unit­ed with her fam­i­ly af­ter she says she was screened and cleared by im­mi­gra­tion.The stu­dent said she was not “flagged” with any flu-like symp­toms.
The 20-year-old woman from east Trinidad, who is a sec­ond-year stu­dent at the New York Uni­ver­si­ty, Shang­hai, ar­rived at the Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port close to mid­night on Fri­day. The schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ent’s re­turn to Shang­hai one week ago co­in­cid­ed with the Chi­nese New Year which was cel­e­brat­ed on Jan­u­ary 25.
ow­ev­er, hours af­ter land­ing in Chi­na, she was in­formed that class­es had been post­poned in­def­i­nite­ly fol­low­ing the spread of the coro­n­avirus which orig­i­nat­ed in the Wuhan province. Wuhan is ap­prox­i­mate­ly an eight-hour train ride from the stu­dent’s lo­ca­tion in Shang­hai.The soft-spo­ken stu­dent said up­on land­ing in Chi­na, every­one was in­struct­ed to main­tain a self-im­posed iso­la­tion and as such, she re­mained locked in her dorm un­til de­cid­ing to re­turn home to T&T.Re­quest­ing her name not be pub­lished, the So­cial Sci­ences stu­dent trav­elled from Shang­hai to Tokyo, then to Texas and fi­nal­ly T&T. Screened a to­tal of three times, the woman said she was cur­rent­ly sat­is­fied with the in­ter­na­tion­al and lo­cal screen­ing pro­ce­dures she had un­der­gone.How­ev­er, she added that while T&T had ac­ti­vat­ed screen­ing pro­ce­dures, she was un­cer­tain if this would be enough as the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues to un­fold.“In the air­ports that I have passed through in the US and Tokyo, it’s pret­ty okay be­cause they are do­ing what every­one is do­ing at the mo­ment. I am not too sure as the whole sit­u­a­tion pro­gress­es if it will be enough be­cause I know def­i­nite­ly that the oth­er air­ports are re­al­ly crack­ing down on every­thing.”’I con­sid­er my­self lucky’Re­fer­ring to the bans on ar­riv­ing Chi­nese na­tion­als by var­i­ous coun­tries around the world, the stu­dent said, “I be­lieve I was’nt flagged be­cause I didn’t show any signs. I haven’t been sick from the time I ar­rived in Shang­hai, to the time I left.”“I used my mask from the mo­ment I left my dorm in Shang­hai, straight un­til my ar­rival in Hous­ton. Up­on ar­riv­ing, there was bare­ly any­one us­ing masks and I was in­struct­ed by the im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer to re­move it so they could see my face. But no one had any health con­cerns with it. They weren’t even us­ing masks.” In­di­cat­ing she was lucky to have been al­lowed to go home by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, she said, “I prayed from the mo­ment I heard what they were go­ing to do that un­til I came, so yes, I con­sid­er my­self lucky.”Ap­plaud­ing Gov­ern­ment for im­ple­ment­ing the de­ci­sion to re­strict vis­i­tors from Chi­na in a bid to pro­tect the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion, she claimed, “It is re­al­ly scary for the peo­ple that are ac­tu­al­ly just try­ing to get back home be­cause I def­i­nite­ly know there are Trinida­di­ans in Chi­na who prob­a­bly have not ar­rived home as yet, and when they do, they will prob­a­bly be placed in quar­an­tine.”Asked to de­scribe the at­mos­phere back in Chi­na, she said, “When I ar­rived back in Chi­na, there was bare­ly any cel­e­bra­tions at all. It was just qui­et and if any­one was out, they were wear­ing masks. I think peo­ple were just try­ing to iso­late them­selves.”Asked if the sit­u­a­tion was as bad as was be­ing re­port­ed, she said, “I don’t be­lieve it’s as bad as it’s be­ing made out to be.”Point­ing to the fact that Shang­hai has a pop­u­la­tion of just over 24 mil­lion, the stu­dent claimed, “There are prob­a­bly 100 cas­es in Shang­hai.”“Every­thing is in Wuhan and they are on lock­down. The au­thor­i­ties stopped pub­lic trans­porta­tion and peo­ple are re­al­ly try­ing their best to be safe. Noth­ing is go­ing on and every­where is closed. There is no hys­te­ria at all.“I don’t think us in Trinidad have that much to wor­ry about, main­ly be­cause per capi­ta, it’s a re­al­ly re­al­ly slim sta­tis­ti­cal chance. Once we stay clean, wash our hands, we should be pret­ty safe.”Ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­flux of vis­i­tors be­ing ex­pect­ed for Car­ni­val, the stu­dent urged every­one to main­tain a strict lev­el of clean­li­ness and per­son­al hy­giene to min­imise the spread of the virus.In­di­cat­ing her moth­er had been “pan­icky and very wor­ried,” the stu­dent smiled as she re­mem­bered tak­ing calls at least three times a day.Briefly com­ment­ing on the sit­u­a­tion and hav­ing her daugh­ter back home, the moth­er said she was re­lieved her youngest child had not been de­tained by the au­thor­i­ties.Health Min­is­ter says quar­an­tine mea­sures in place at Cau­raCom­ment­ing on the stu­dent’s ar­rival, Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh said while he was not aware of that spe­cif­ic pas­sen­ger, he was con­fi­dent that the stu­dent would have been sub­ject­ed to all screen­ing mea­sures that they had put in place.He said this coun­try’s air­ports and sea­ports have all been locked down in a bid to de­tect and iso­late po­ten­tial cas­es of the coro­n­avirus.And while he has as­sured that quar­an­tine mech­a­nisms are in place at the Cau­ra Hos­pi­tal to fa­cil­i­tate the iso­la­tion of such peo­ple, he is op­ti­mistic that ear­ly pre­ven­tion mea­sures would be suc­cess­ful to stop the en­try of the virus in­to T&T.Re­spond­ing to ques­tions from re­porters Sat­ur­day at the Mt Hope Wom­ens’ Clin­ic, Deyals­ingh re­in­forced the an­nounce­ment by Cab­i­net last Thurs­day to sub­ject peo­ple ar­riv­ing in T&T from Chi­na to a 14-day re­stric­tion which would cov­er the ex­pect­ed vi­ral in­cu­ba­tion pe­ri­od.This means that ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers will not be al­lowed to en­ter T&T un­til a 14-day pe­ri­od has elapsed.He claimed, “Since we an­nounced the 14-day win­dow, Ja­maica has fol­lowed suit. The Cruise Ship Al­liance, which is a glob­al al­liance, has now used that. The US has now come and said any­one com­ing in from Chi­na will be quar­an­tined for 14 days.”Con­firm­ing the me­dia would be in­vit­ed to view the ther­mal screen­ing pro­ce­dures at the air­port on Fri­day, Deyals­ingh said the tour would in­clude a trip to the quar­an­tine fa­cil­i­ty at Cau­ra Hos­pi­tal.The min­is­ter said Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties had al­ready is­sued na­tion­al no­tices ad­vis­ing peo­ple that any­one leav­ing the coun­try would do so at their own risk.Deyals­ingh said, “It is bet­ter if you are in Chi­na and well, to stay there.”He said it was much eas­i­er to self-iso­late your­self in Chi­na than to go on a plane and risk ex­pos­ing hun­dreds more to the virus.He said all for­eign em­bassies in Chi­na were be­ing pro­vid­ed with the nec­es­sary sup­plies to treat their lo­cal who live and work in the coun­try.Deyals­ingh said, “So far, there is no lo­cal Trinida­di­an or To­bag­on­ian who has come down with the virus in Chi­na.”On Thurs­day, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion de­clared the virus an in­ter­na­tion­al emer­gency. The death toll in Chi­na has so far ex­ceed­ed 250.Coro­n­avirus careWHO’s stan­dard rec­om­men­da­tions for the gen­er­al pub­lic to re­duce ex­po­sure to and trans­mis­sion of a range of ill­ness­es are as fol­lows, which in­clude hand and res­pi­ra­to­ry hy­giene, and safe food prac­tices:1. Fre­quent­ly clean hands by us­ing al­co­hol-based hand rub or soap and wa­ter;2. When cough­ing and sneez­ing cov­er mouth and nose with flexed el­bow or tis­sue – throw tis­sue away im­me­di­ate­ly and wash hands;3. Avoid close con­tact with any­one who has fever and cough;4. If you have fever, cough and dif­fi­cul­ty breath­ing seek med­ical care ear­ly and share pre­vi­ous trav­el his­to­ry with your health care provider;5. When vis­it­ing live mar­kets in ar­eas cur­rent­ly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cas­es of nov­el coro­n­avirus, avoid di­rect un­pro­tect­ed con­tact with live an­i­mals and sur­faces in con­tact with an­i­mals;6. The con­sump­tion of raw or un­der­cooked an­i­mal prod­ucts should be avoid­ed. Raw meat, milk or an­i­mal or­gans should be han­dled with care, to avoid cross-con­t­a­m­i­na­tion with un­cooked foods, as per good food safe­ty prac­tices.

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