Jamaica Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton speaks at an emergency press conference on Tuesday.

Jamaica’s health minister held an emergency press conference to quash social media rumours of a local suspected case of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

Dr. Christopher Tufton denied on Tuesday that a patient at the University Hospital of the West Indies was suffering from the virus.

He confirmed that the patient had travelled to China, where thousands of cases have been reported, on 7 Jan. and returned to Jamaica a week later, but said the person did not have coronavirus.

The Jamaica Gleaner earlier on Tuesday reported that a source had indicated that the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Unit had been partially closed and a patient isolated.

However, UHWI chief executive officer Kevin Allen told The Gleaner that the health facility was treating the suspected case as one of dengue.

“A patient presented at the Emergency Department last night and we are querying dengue. We have sent the necessary body fluids to the lab for testing and we await same,” he told the newspaper.

A reported 4,500 people have been infected with the virus, and 106 have died, according to reports.

In Cayman, no suspected cases have been reported, but local public health department is “closely monitoring the situation,” according to a statement released last week.

Dr. Samuel Williams Rodriguez, medical officer of health, said in the statement, “At the advice of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) we continue to strengthen our surveillance efforts to detect patients with acute respiratory disease and to ensure all health care professionals are up to date with guidance on infection and prevention control, and standard recommendations to prevent infection spread of the disease.”

He said travellers returning from countries where there have been reported cases, and who develop breathing difficulties that are unexplained by any other illness or virus, should contact a doctor as soon as possible and state their travel history so that a correct diagnosis can be made.

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