Any foreigner now arriving in TT with a recent China stamp in their passport will be sent back to where they came from, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh told Newsday on Monday.
The BBC, on Monday, reported that 17,000 people have been infected and 360 are dead, mostly in China, from the Wuhan novel coronavirus, with another 150 people infected in 20 other countries.
The epidemic has hurt Chinese share prices and the world oil price.
While Deyalsingh last Friday told the House of Representatives that Cabinet has mandated that new arrivals from China spend 14 days in quarantine, on Monday he said this facility will be afforded only to citizens but not to foreigners.
Asked what happens to someone landing at Piarco with a passport stamp indicating they had just come from China, Deyalsingh said, “If they are not a TT citizen they will be invited to go back to where they came from.” Asked about TT citizens coming from China, he said, “They will be isolated in TT.”
Newsday got an update the TT citizen who recently arrived at Piarco from China.
“She left China before the travel restrictions took place. She has absolutely no symptoms,” Deyalsingh replied. “However she is under voluntary isolation at home. She lives just with her mother and she is under the care and management of the county medical officer of health.”
Asked if TT has a severe acute respiratory infections protocol now, Deyalsingh replied yes. “I gave instructions to the CMO (chief medical officer) this morning to do so and he is having a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) morning with all the RHAs and the TT Medical Association.”
Deyalsingh said he has not applied for any extra budgetary allocation to pay for the preparations for the virus, as of now.
Newsday asked if more face masks were needed. “They have already been ordered. They should be in the country within the next couple of days. We will have 80,000 face masks, which is more than enough.”
Newsday asked about a vaccination being developed in Australia. He replied, “Vaccine development will not happen until the end of the year at the earliest, so you can’t rely on vaccination to manage this problem.”
Were there any other quarantine sites apart from Caura Hospital? “All the major hospitals have always had isolation capacity, in addition to Caura.”
Asked if he was he satisfied TT’s hospitals have enough staffing and bedding for such quarantine, he replied yes.
Was Carnival still on the cards? “Carnival goes on,” he said.
He gave Newsday an update on the outcome of a Caricom health ministers tele-conference on Monday at Caricom headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.
“We all agreed the issue needs urgent attention across all territories. We agreed to come up with a common communication platform to be developed by CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Authority) and sent to all member States. We also agreed we will be sharing all information with the region, and with PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) and CARPHA.”
Caribbean Airlines corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure told Newsday the airline is actively monitoring for the coronavirus.
“Our employees are briefed and our crews are briefed. The airline is working with all the authorities to minimise the risk to our employees and customers.
“Systems are actively in place to safeguard our employees and customers. We are working with all stakeholders. We are being very proactive.”