Sat | Mar 28, 2020

West gears up to tackle coronavirus

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:27 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

As fears of the deadly coronavirus continue to swirl globally, the health authorities in western Jamaica say they have fine-tuned plans for rigorous screening at all ports of entry and the establishment of an isolation zone at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.

Dr Marcia Johnson-Campbell, regional technical director of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), told The Gleaner yesterday that the standard screening processes at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay would be imposed for the coronavirus as had been previously established for Ebola, yellow fever, and malaria.

“We have the Condor flight that comes from Frankfurt, Germany, on Mondays and Wednesdays with a lot of travellers from China, so those persons would be directed to the port health surveillance desk to be interviewed and screened.

“There’s also a fever-scan machine at the Sangster International Airport, and when persons pass through the machine, if they have an elevated temperature, it should detect them,” said Johnson-Campbell.

RAISING AWARENESS

The technocrat said that medical personnel have been urged to be vigilant in identifying persons who are currently ill so that they can receive immediate attention.

The WRHA regional technical director also said that information would be shared with all travellers to raise awareness and inform them on protocols to follow if symptoms arise later.

“If they have no symptoms, there’s nothing we can do or need to do at the airport to stop them, because there’s no restriction on travel and trade. What’s important is that they know where to go if they become ill,” said Johnson-Campbell.

Dr Delroy Fray, clinical coordinator at Cornwall Regional, said the hospital’s staff were being trained on how to handle potential coronavirus cases.

“We’re in the process of reminding our staff of how to look after these persons to prevent cross-transmission, as we did for Ebola. We’ve secured the area we’re going to use for isolation, so in the event we should get one case right now, we will have a place to put them,” said Fray.

Coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, reportedly originated in a Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, a Chinese city about 650 miles south of Beijing, with a population of more than 11 million. The market was shut down on January 1.

According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the coronavirus has spread to at least 16 countries, with more than 6,000 cases of infection being reported.

Persons who are especially susceptible to the virus include the very young, the elderly, pregnant mothers, and persons with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Measures to prevent transmission of the disease are the same for the cold or flu:

• Wash hands frequently.

• Cough or sneeze into tissues, handkerchiefs, or into the crook of your elbow.

• If you feel sick, avoid crowded areas and stay home.

• Stay well hydrated.

• If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.