No reported case of Coronavirus in the region; low risk, says CARPHA
There are no reported cases of the dreaded Coronavirus in the Caribbean, and the general risk to the region is low.
That is according to Dr Joy St John, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). St John made the announcement on Thursday during the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Vice Chancellor’s Forum titled: ‘Demystifying the Coronavirus 2019-NCOV’.
The panel discussion, which involved experts from several regional countries, was broadcast live via UWITV.
St John said CARPHA had come to that conclusion following discussions with its international partners.
Her pronouncement came shortly before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a global health emergency. This is an acknowledgement by WHO that the viral disease now represents a threat beyond China, where it first emerged in December.
St John, while she spoke during the panel discussion, had indicated that she was monitoring the WHO meeting in Geneva. She later updated the audience with the WHO declaration.
She said earlier: “Currently, despite the WHO giving a global risk of high (now elevated to global health emergency) for the region of the Caribbean, it’s currently low from the perspective of disease importation.”
Despite that statement, the CARPHA executive director stressed that “vigilance is required, (as) the situation is changing quite rapidly”.
She lamented that “One of the biggest risks to the region is social media misinformation, which is a risk to the stable profile of the Caribbean.”
St John said CARPHA is working with its partners to ensure that the region’s tourism is not negatively affected because of a negative portrayal of the health response of the region.
And she further emphasised that CARPHA’s role is to support member states in “adapting existing influenza preparedness plans; to adapt to the novel coronavirus through training and refreshing of training of healthcare workers in universal precautions and use of necessary personal protective equipment.”
Additionally, CARPHA is playing a role in ensuring the implementation of, and supporting of, measures to protect the most vulnerable in the regional populations.