Jamaica Government Denies Case of Coronavirus But Issues Advisory Against Travel to and From China

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said there was no truth to the claim that there was such a case.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday January 29, 2020 – Health authorities have sought to assure Jamaicans that there is no case of the deadly new coronavirus at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

There had been reports that the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department was on partial shutdown as personnel treated a suspected case of the coronavirus that has left more than 130 people dead in China.

However, at a press conference yesterday afternoon, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said there was no truth to the claim that there was such a case.

Medical Chief of Staff at the UHWI Dr Carl Bruce further explained that a patient, who recently travelled to China and had flu symptoms, was transferred to the UHWI from another hospital and an assessment of the individual was done “out of an abundance of caution”.

However, he said, the patient who returned to Jamaica on January 14 did not exhibit symptoms of the virus, which includes a fever exceeding 30 degrees Celsius.

“The patient is doing well…and the Univerity Hospital will continue to do the evaluation and testing and will discharge the patient, as per our usual protocol, as soon as all those testing and evaluation are completed,” Dr Bruce said.

Meantime, Minister Tufton disclosed that a travel advisory was being issued for travel between Jamaica and China.

“Persons in China who were planning to travel to the island are being asked to defer those plans. For those in Jamaica, who had planned on travelling to China, we are asking that they also defer their plans,” he said.

“For persons in transit to Jamaica, our quarantine protocols will be put in place where persons will either be quarantined in a health facility or at home, depending on the risk assessment done.”

The Health Minister also indicated that active surveillance would continue at Jamaica’s ports of entry.

“This morning, we had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Ambassador. Based on those discussions, the GOJ [Government of Jamaica] will continue its surveillance protocols, which are in alignment with international health regulations,” Dr Tufton added.

The number of cases in the new coronavirus outbreak, which started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in the Hubei Province, has increased rapidly. It jumped to 4,593 in 15 countries yesterday, from the 2,835 confirmed the day before.

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