KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Monday February 17, 2020 – The Ministry of Health has moved to dispel reports of any confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, as it confirmed that several people who recently travelled to China, the epicentre of the epidemic, remain in quarantine and two tests turned out negative.
The ministry had reported on February 7 that a Vincentian returning from China had been placed in quarantine for 14 days as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“The person is monitored on a twice-daily basis by health care workers. This citizen was the first person to be put under quarantine. Since then, 16 other persons have been quarantined. On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, three Chinese nationals (two residents and one citizen of St Vincent and the Grenadines) returned from China having left there on February 10, 2020. They travelled through Germany and Barbados. Those three individuals have been quarantined along with all of the other 13 members of their households,” the Ministry said.
It stressed that none of the three travellers, all of whom also receive twice-daily checks by health care workers, has shown any signs or symptoms of infection with COVID-19.
However, the ministry added, last Friday, during a health check, a member of one household was found to have a low grade fever.
“This person is not one of the travellers from China and none of the travellers had any symptoms. However, out of an abundance of caution, swabs were taken for laboratory analysis from the person with the fever and the contact who had travelled,” it said.
Those samples were transported by the Regional Security System (RSS) aircraft on Saturday morning to Trinidad to be analyzed at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Public Health Laboratory in Port of Spain.
“The laboratory reported that both samples were negative for COVID-19. The MOHWE [Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment] Medical Laboratory, however, found that the person with the fever had Influenza B, a form of the flu.”
The Ministry said it would continue to monitor all 17 persons under quarantine for the recommended 14 days and will take all measures necessary to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the country’s population.
It also stressed that there was no connection between the AIDA Perla cruise ship which docked at Port Kingstown earlier this month and the individuals under quarantine.
More than 70,000 people have been infected by the virus and there have been at least 1,770 deaths.