Montserrat registers first case of coronavirus

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Montserrat registers first case of coronavirus

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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BRADES, Montserrat (CMC) — Montserrat became the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to register a case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) after a person visiting from the United Kingdom tested positive for the virus that has killed more than 6,000 people worldwide.

Health and Social Services Minister, Charles T Kirnon, said that confirmation had been received Tuesday from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

“The sample was sent from the suspected case identified on Friday, March 13. The patient is someone who is visiting from the UK, and who travelled on the March 10, 2020 British Airways flight (BA 2157) from London to Antigua, which was transporting a passenger whom the Antiguan authorities identified as being positive for COVID-19.”

Kirnon said that on learning from the Antiguan authorities that a passenger on that flight had fallen ill with COVID-19, the authorities here activated its outbreak investigation protocol to locate, assess and quarantine all passengers who travelled to Montserrat, through Antigua on the same British Airways flight.

“The patient has been in isolation since March 13 and will remain in isolation, while being treated and monitored until the disease is no longer detected,” the Health and Social Services Minister said, noting that a total of three samples were sent to CARPHA for testing.

“One tested positive for COVID-19 and two came back negative. I know that everyone is concerned, however, I am appealing to all not to panic. Remain calm and follow the instructions from the Ministry of Health and the government of Montserrat as a whole.”

Kirnon said that “in this ever-connected world we cannot hide from such global pandemics; with countries around us succumbing to the relenting and growing reach of the virus,” adding “given the rapid spread of COVID-19, we knew it was only a matter of time before it showed up on our shores”.

“That is why we have been activating our preparedness plans and measures for weeks now,” he said, adding that the preparedness work is comprehensive and it involves actions to minimise risk of exposure amongst the local population.

“On the other front, we are taking actions to make sure the health system is enhanced and upgraded so we can treat patients in the event that we see more cases of coronavirus in Montserrat.”

He said in addition to the preparations already done ahead of time, the authorities here are further securing additional supplies and equipment.

“I can assure you we have enough clinical and personal protective equipment on island. Our staff have been trained and encouraged to use PPE to protect themselves. The government has taken steps to order extra supplies, such as more beds, extra ventilators and testing equipment and supplies, to ensure that the hospital has the resources it needs.”

Apart from Montserrat, the other CARICOM countries with COVID-19 cases are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

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