Outbreak of a new coronavirus respiratory infection

There is an outbreak of a new coronavirus respiratory infection taking place on the
Mainland China. It started in Wuhan City, China, which is the epicenter, and as of today
Friday, January 24, 2020 over eight (8) countries have reported confirmed cases to the
World Health Organisation (WHO). The latest two countries to report confirmed cases are
the United States of America (USA) and France. Thus far, there are over 830 cases
(suspected and confirmed) and approximately twenty-six (26) deaths.

Person to person transmission is occurring and older persons with chronic diseases are
seriously impacted. The symptoms include: fever, chills, runny nose, muscle pains, and
difficulty breathing and coughing – which may signal that the person has a lower
respiratory illness.

The health risk from this new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) to the people of the Federation
and the wider Caribbean is still deemed to be low. However, we must take proactive
preparedness precautions.

  1. The Federation’s preparedness precautions include:
    1. The Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to recommend good personal hygiene
    practices to prevent the common cold/flu:
    – Hand-washing;
    – Covering the nose and mouth with tissue or flexed elbow when coughing and
    sneezing;
    – Avoiding close contact to anyone with cold or flu symptoms; and
    – Remaining at home from school if one has a cold or flu.

It must be noted that all incoming air travelers to the Federation must complete question
# 17 of the “Welcome to St. Kitts and Nevis” Immigration/Customs Form. This question
requires a listing of all countries travelers may have visited in the past six (6) months.
Incoming travelers from the Mainland China will be asked to provide travel history, history
of exposure to virus, and contact information.

All suspected cases (based on case definitions by WHO) will be evaluated and managed.
The Emergency Committee of the WHO met on January 22, 2020 and decided that at
present the outbreak does not constitute a public health emergency of international
concern (PHEIC).

The Federal Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public that there will be increased
surveillance of all incoming travelers at our ports of entry (POEs), particularly involving
all international flights and the following three (3) regional hubs – Antigua, St. Maarten
and Puerto Rico.

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has stressed that The National Pandemic
Influenza/Virus Preparedness Plan is being updated, and that the public will be updated
on this new coronavirus infection as often as may be required.

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER
January 24, 2020

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