AGRICULTURE Minister Clarence Rambharat said the ministry is monitoring the deadly coronavirus as it had initially been transferred from animals to humans.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh previously informed Newsday that passengers landing at the Piarco airport are being scanned the moment they step off their aircraft to guard against the spread of a viral outbreak from China which, on Tuesday, was detected in a patient in Washington State, USA.
At least six people have died and 300 infected in Asia with the virus initially identified in China in clusters of people suffering from pneumonia. While the coronavirus seems to have originated in meat/animals at a market in Wuhan City, China, Deyalsingh was concerned it now seems to be transmitted from human to human.
Rambharat speaking in a telephone interview Wednesday about trafficking in animals he said the ministry was also on alert as the coronavirus was a rare zoonotic disease (transferred from animal to human).
"There is no sign of the virus here. But we do not know how moved from animal to humans in China. It is something we have to be on alert in the context of the particular virus and its possible spreading."
He said the Health Ministry had put measures in place for humans and because the situation was still at the early stages he was not in a position to say the extent of the risk. He added the usual measures were in place to deal with trafficked animals and there are also lots of reports from members of the public as well as the work of vets and game wardens in the ministry and protective services. Rambharat said the ministry is always on alert because of all the risks of diseases, particularly from South America.
"We are mindful and our vets aware of the information (on the coronavirus) that it can pass from animals to humans. The situation is being monitored."