Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Isolation, quarantine for new St Lucia arrivals

On Saturday, February 22, 2020, authorities were alerted of two Chinese nationals with dual citizenship travelling to Saint Lucia via the United Kingdom, with a travel history of concern. Upon arrival, they were reviewed by the port health team as per protocol. One person is currently placed under isolation at a health care facility and the other under quarantine at another site in keeping with public health guidelines. Samples will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA for testing today.

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of persons who are well and may have been exposed to a communicable disease like COVID-19. This is done to see if they develop signs and symptoms over the incubation period of the particular disease. 

Isolation is used to separate known ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases.

Corona viruses cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-nCoV). The signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. In the severe cases of the diseases, pneumonia may develop severe respiratory syndrome and death. This new strain has not been previously identified in humans. Presently, there is limited information on the characterization of the behavior of the virus, the severity of infection and the levels of transmissibility.

The Department of Health and Wellness has established systems at key institutions to ensure timely response and management of any issue of public health concern which include our ports and health care facilities. These systems are functioning well and continue to detect and respond to issues of concern which arise. Despite this creditable level of responsiveness, the Department of Health & Wellness continues to undertake constant review and strengthening of its preparedness plans to manage the threat of the Corona Virus and other issues of public health concern.

In the interim, the public is asked to continue practicing the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection. These include:

  • - regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer where soap and water is not available.
  • - cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing.
  • - avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  • - seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel.

As of Sunday, February 23, 2020, the WHO reported a total of 78,811 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from China with 2,445 deaths. There are now 1,769 confirmed cases in 28 countries outside China which include:  Thailand (35), Japan (132), the Republic of Korea (602), Vietnam (16), Singapore (89), Australia (22), Malaysia (22), Cambodia (1), Philippines (3), Nepal (1), Sri Lanka (1), India (3), United States of America (35), Canada (9), France (12), Finland (1), Germany (16), Italy (76), Russian Federation (2), United Kingdom (9), Belgium (1), Spain (2), Sweden (1) and United Arab Emirates (13), Egypt (1), Israel (1), Sweden (1), Iran (28), Lebanon (1). There have been 17 deaths outside China. The cases on an international conveyance, that is the cruise liner in Japan (634) with two (2) deaths. There are no Corona Virus cases in St Lucia or the Caribbean region.

For more information please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Officer or the Epidemiology Unit, at 468-5309/468-5317 respectively

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