13 Jamaicans in quarantine, one in isolation as health officials ‘take no chances’ with coronavirus

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton alongside Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan (Photo: JIS)

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says 13 Jamaicans have been placed in quarantine and one woman remains in isolation as a precautionary measure in light of their recent travel history in China – the epicentre of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Tufton, who provided an update on Jamaica’s status with the disease at a press briefing on Wednesday, further explained that the government remains vigilant in its efforts to protect the population from 2019-nCoV.

Additionally, travel restrictions to and from China have been extended with Tufton disclosing that while Jamaica cannot refuse its own citizens who attempt to repatriate, they will be subjected to an immediate quarantine up to, and possibly exceeding 14 days.

The minister indicated that 27 persons have been refused landing privileges and put back on flights to China.

“The restrictions on travel from China remains in effect. Only Jamaican nationals, permanent residents and those with marriage exemption will be granted landing privileges. All travellers will be subject to immediate quarantine and for a minimum of 14 days,” he told journalists.

“Any travellers who show any symptom of the novel coronavirus will be put in immediate isolation,” Tufton said, adding that isolation facilities are fully operational at public hospitals.

The ‘quarantine/isolation’ distinction is only medical, Tufton assured as none of the 14 patients have exhibited the full suite of symptoms to warrant a novel coronavirus diagnosis.

The minister pointed out that each traveller was assessed to determine the type of quarantine to be applied, as some have been allowed to stay at home with daily visits by healthcare personnel to monitor their recovery.

In the meantime, given the risk of the novel coronavirus, a National Coordinating Mechanism has been activated, on the instruction of Cabinet – placing great emphasis on border protection as well as training preparedness of frontline workers at all the island’s sea and air ports of entry.

“The training sessions have focused on the new coronavirus with respect to roles and responsibilities of the points of entries, as well as facilitation of prompt recognition of infectious, or potentially infectious persons and implementation of appropriate interventions,” he said.