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Update on Coronavirus and Recent Meeting

AS of March 01, 2020, the WHO reported a total of 87,137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 2,977 deaths. There are now 7,169 confirmed cases in 58 countries outside China with 104 deaths which include: Thailand (42), Japan (239), the Republic of Korea (3,736), Vietnam (16), Singapore (102), Australia (25), Malaysia (24), Cambodia (1), Philippines (3), Nepal (1), Sri Lanka (1), India (3), United States of America (62), Canada (19), Brazil (2), Mexico(2), Ecuador (1), Algeria (1), Nigeria (1), France (100), Finland (2), Germany (57), Italy (1128), Russian Federation (2), Belarus (1), United Kingdom (23), Switzerland (18), Norway (15), Belgium (1), Estonia (1), Ireland (1), Lithuania (1), Monaco (1), North Macedonia (1), San Marino(1), Spain (45), Sweden (13), New Zealand (1) United Arab Emirates (19), Egypt (1), Qatar (1), Iraq (13), Oman (6), Pakistan (4), Israel (7), Austria (10), Croatia (7), Netherlands (7), Azerbaijan (3), Denmark (3), Georgia (3), Greece (3), Romania (3), Iran (593), Lebanon (2), Afganistan (1), Kuwait (45), Bahrain (40). There have been 23 deaths outside China. The cases on an international conveyance, that is the cruise liner in Japan (705) with 4 deaths.

The Department of Health and Wellness awaits confirmation by the WHO on the cases in French Saint Martin and the Dominican Republic.

The global increase in cases and the sustained community transmission reported in countries with direct flights to our member states has resulted in the risk of disease transmission to the Caribbean region being upgraded by CARPHA from low to moderate to high. This requires a shift in planning from preparedness to rapid response. The Department of Health and Wellness has noted this update and continues working towards preparation for in country management of cases.

On Friday, February 28, 2020, Prime Minster Hon. Allen Chastanet chaired an emergency meeting with the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) to brief stakeholders of the disaster management plans in response to the global threat of COVID-19. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar- George presented on the situation report globally, the regional coordinating mechanism and the national response to date. The wide range of stakeholders were given the opportunity to voice concerns and make recommendations. These recommendations were noted for discussion at the National COVID-19 Coordination Meeting scheduled for Monday March 2, 2020.

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, The Honourable Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar- George attended the Special Meeting of CARICOM in Barbados. This meeting was convened to discuss the global threat of COVID-19 to the region and facilitate regional coordination for the management of COVID-19. The cruise and airline executives were also engaged in this discussion. The meeting was chaired by Barbados Prime Minister Hon. Mia Mortley and was attended by the Pan American Health Organisation PAHO, Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA, Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States OECS, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency CDEMA, CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Executives of the various cruise lines were also in attendance.

In the interim, the public is asked to continue practicing the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection. These include:
– regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer where soap and water is not available.
– cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing.
– avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
– seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel.

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