Thu | Sep 24, 2020

Health Ministry alerted to new strain of virus causing respiratory illness in China

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2020 | 11:48 AM
Acting Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Karen Webster Kerr - Contributed photo

The Ministry of Health & Wellness says it has taken note of reports of a cluster of pneumonia caused by a virus under investigation in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China and says Jamaica has no case of this disease.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Karen Webster Kerr says Jamaica has a robust surveillance system already in place to detect emerging diseases.

Webster Kerr says the preparedness activities will continue for the prevention and containment of this disease.

These activities, she notes, include surveillance, early detection, and rapid isolation and treatment of all cases.”

To date, the Ministry says there have been reports that China has a cluster of cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus in Wuhan City.

There have also been exported cases from China to other countries, namely Thailand and Japan.  All these persons had travelled to Wuhan City.

Officials in China have linked the viral infections to a Wuhan seafood and wildlife market. 

The spread of the virus comes as China gets ready for the Lunar New Year holiday later this week.

The holiday period typically sees millions of Chinese travellers throughout the country and overseas. 

In further cautioning travellers, Webster Kerr said, “We want to remind persons to pay attention to the standard infection prevention and control precautions, especially as it relates to viral respiratory illnesses.  Travellers to the affected areas where the outbreak is present should take the necessary steps to prevent an introduction of the disease into the island.”

Travellers should avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections; frequently wash hands, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment and persons with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette, that is, maintain distance from others, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands frequently.

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