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Jamaica to bar people who visited countries affected by yellow fever

Published:Thursday | May 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Persons without certificates of vaccination who have visited or transited countries affected by yellow fever within six days of arriving in Jamaica will be refused entry by the Ministry of Health (MOH) at the island's ports.

Although there is no yellow fever in Jamaica, the MOH believes that the acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes is too close to home for the ministry to rest on its laurels.

As a result, the decision was taken at a stakeholders meeting in Kingston yesterday morning to prevent entry of those exposed to the disease and to quarantine Jamaicans who have visited affected areas and who are not vaccinated.

Reports out of the meeting are that the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency will hold the passports of any visitor refused entry until the person departs.

In the event there is no flight that day, the airline will return the visitor by other airlines direct or connecting on the same day. In the event there are no flights on the day the visitor arrives, that person will be restricted to hotel premises and the MOH will enforce and monitor the quarantine.

Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. A small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms, and approximately half of those die within seven to 10 days.

The virus is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America. The disease is already in Brazil, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.


Exemption letter


Persons who can't take vaccines are allowed to get a doctor's exemption letter, but that does not guarantee entry into Jamaica, says the MOH.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has designated that yellow fever is not an international event like Zika or Ebola, the disease is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable.

A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against the disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. The vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for 99 per cent of persons vaccinated.

The WHO also notes that good supportive treatment in hospitals improves survival rates, however, there is currently no specific antiviral drug for the disease.

In meantime, the MOH is expected to issue an alert to airlines, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will advise the embassies.

The alert will be shared with travel agencies locally and internationally.