Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the biggest threat to this country was influenza.
He noted the country was in the influenza season and with Carnival, there tended to be a spike in cases because of close contact of individuals. He added that there is a vaccine and people are being encouraged to take the vaccine before Carnival as it limit the chance of getting flu. He said it could help discern what type of respiratory illness is affecting the person.
He was speaking during a media tour of measures to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus at the Caura hospital.
He said the health ministry’s decision to go to Cabinet to restrict travel for 14 days of people coming from China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated and is most prevalent, came before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of a public health emergency of international concern.
“One of those factors was the resource of the country. It is a small island developing state and we have to look at where we have resources as opposed to China.”
He noted China has been outstripped with the outbreak and had to build a new hospital.
“China, as big as they are, their capacity would have been limited in the way the virus was spreading.”
He said others issues were that the virus was being spread during the incubation period and before symptoms occurred, asymptomatic people (those not presenting symptoms) were spreading it, there was no vaccine and no specific treatment.
He reported as the quarantine authority, he wrote to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) indicating his justifications for the travel restriction. He said he believed PAHO sent this to WHO and up to a couple days ago about 23 countries in the Americas indicated to PAHO they have some form of restriction.
“I think Grenada would have done the same thing as Trinidad. Jamaica has a restriction and Suriname is contemplating it.”
Asked about the coronavirus reaching Venezuela with its poor health system, Parasram said the ministry is monitoring the situation. He said if a country becomes endemic (local spread occurring in a vast number of areas just as China), we would have to consider restrictions for other jurisdictions just as was done with Ebola (in 2014).
“And we will inform Cabinet, if need be, to add countries to the list if restrictions need to be applied.”
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