Jamaica has confirmed its first imported case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The announcement was made by Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton, during a press briefing at the ministry’s New Kingston offices this afternoon. The Health Minister said that the patient, a young woman, arrived on the island from the UK on Wednesday March 4, 2020 but did not show symptoms of the disease until Monday, March 9, 2020.
He said that based on the symptoms presented by the patient, medical staff suspected a case of COVID-19 following preliminary assessments. He added that based on standard protocol, samples were taken from the patient and sent to the National Influenza Centre, where the country’s worst fear was confirmed at approximately 11am this morning.
In his statement Dr. Tufton noted that the UK was not among the list of countries upon which a travel restriction was imposed. Hence the reason the patient was not taken into quarantine from last Wednesday. The country is now in panic as there are concerns that persons with whom the individual have come in contact, might have caught the virus. The patient is said to have attended a funeral.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-Mckenzie said that steps are being taken as part of investigations to trace the places and people with whom the patient might have come in contact from they were on the plane to the time of being admitted to the University hospital of the West Indies.
Other caribbean islands with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus include the Dominican Republic, Martinique, St. Barts and St. Martin. The coronavirus has so far killed more than 4000 people globally and has infected more than 113,000 persons in 70 different countries.