A Coronavirus Update from Jamaica

It has been quite a week for Health and Wellness Minister Christopher Tufton, who updated the Jamaican Parliament on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Wednesday, January 29. On the following day, the World Health Organization announced a global health emergency – and health officials around the world had a re-think on what measures were appropriate to prevent the virus from reaching their shores, if it had not already done so.

Medical workers transferring patients to Jin Yintan hospital on Friday in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Getty Images

Now, the WHO is looking into the possibility that infected people may be able to transmit the virus without showing any symptoms – per their Situation Report dated February 1. In that report, I was rather surprised to see that only 60.5 percent of cases in China have been reported in the province where the virus originated (Hubei, specifically the city of Wuhan). It has spread right across the country, according to the map – a total of nearly 12,000 cases. Outside China, there are 132 cases in 23 countries. In our region, only the United States (in four states) and Canada have confirmed a total of 11 cases.

Yesterday, Minister Tufton announced a travel ban to and from China at a second emergency press briefing (the first was to scotch a rumor that there was a case at the University Hospital of the West Indies).

Are Jamaicans over-reacting? Well, there is quite a lot of silly stuff going around on Jamaican social media about the coronavirus – so-called “cures,” etc. – especially on WhatsApp. I don’t think the Ministry is over-reacting, at all. Precautions must be taken.


Meanwhile, we have no cases in Jamaica, and I suggest we all stay calm – and healthy!

There is plenty of information on the website of the Ministry of Health and Wellness website, as well as important advice. Here is today’s update from the Ministry, below.



Coronavirus update

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Saturday, February 1, 2020: The Ministry of Health and Wellness is reporting that the patient who presented at the Annotto Bay Hospital with complaints of a headache, anorexia, chills, dryness to the throat and generalized weakness does not, at this time, meet the case definition for novel Coronavirus.

The patient – who landed in Jamaica on January 30 – reported no history of cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, vomiting, muscle pain or diarrhea. Further, the patient’s vitals, including blood pressure, pulse rate, blood oxygen, and temperature all registered normal. The patient does not, therefore, meet the case definition for novel Coronavirus.

However, as a precaution, the patient has been put in isolation and will remain in isolation until the symptoms abate.

On Friday January 31, 2020, 19 Chinese tourists landed at the Norman Manley International Airport and were refused landing privileges, in accordance with the travel ban now in place for Jamaica. Quarantine protocols were applied as per the Quarantine Act and the travelers left the island at approximately 10:50 am today.

Travelers arriving in the island from China today are currently being processed, as Jamaica maintains its vigilance to protect the local population.




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