With the deadly mystery illness which originated in China having reached the United States, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic is assuring Barbadians that his ministry is sparing no effort in devising a plan to safeguard the country.
This morning Bostic told Barbados TODAY that he was spearheading a series of meetings with all relevant agencies, including the Chief Medical Officer and the Immigration Department, to ensure that every precautionary measure is taken.
“As we speak the team is meeting with the Chief Medical Officer and I have had discussions with him over the weekend. We have been following the situation quite closely and we will be assessing the situation as it currently stands and reviewing all protocols. There are some protocols that were established for SARS which will be relevant in this scenario,” Bostic explained.
He further revealed that checks were being done on stocks of medication, ensuring that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has the capabilities to handle any issues of this nature.
US authorities have now confirmed a case of the mysterious coronavirus that causes flu-like symptoms in Washington State, according to the New York Times. While there are already cases in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea, the fact that the virus has now crossed into North America is concerning for the global effort to prevent a pandemic.
According to the report, the development is particularly troubling because the Chinese government is already screening passengers on flights leaving the Wuhan area, where the virus originated among patients who had visited a particular fish market.
However, Bostic contended that even though little is known about the virus, Barbados has contingencies to protect its borders in addition to containment protocols. He said he has full confidence in the country’s failsafe measures even though the threat may be a little too close for comfort.
“This is a kind of virus where the symptoms are similar to other things. So, for example at the airport and other ports of entry, you will be looking for visitors who might present with symptoms such as high temperatures and these would be picked up by our body scanners,” explained Bostic.
He further pointed out, “We also must deal with specific protocols for persons coming from areas that have been impacted by this thing in China and now that it has started in the United States we have got to keep a close eye on that. We already have some of these plans in place in relation to SARS, so it might just be an issue of tweaking things a bit.”
The Minister made it clear that there was no reason for alarm among Barbadians and the wider region.
“There is no reason for us to panic at this point in time in this region and there have been no alerts from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) nor the World Health Organisation (WHO) that would cause us to have to do anything at this time. We have taken it upon ourselves to look and see what we have and what we need to have, so that we can heighten awareness in terms of the public and then what we need to do with regards to our port health officials,” he said. [email protected]