Jamaica implemented a travel ban to and from China on Friday amid rising fears over the international outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported that the country’s tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, said that Jamaica’s travel and tourism industry could face economic fallout from the emerging global health crisis.

“While the Latin American and Caribbean region has not yet reported any cases of the coronavirus, it is only logical to assume that the virus is likely to hit the region’s shores at any moment now, considering its current geographical spread and trajectory,” Bartlett told The Gleaner.

A group of Chinese tourists was denied landing privileges on Friday night when they arrived at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport. The health ministry said quarantine protocols were applied on Friday night and the 19 travellers were sent back home at 10:50am on Saturday, according to The Gleaner report.

Speaking at a press briefing at the North East Regional Health Authority offices in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on Friday, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton said the severity of the restriction was necessary because Jamaica’s size made it “particularly vulnerable” should there be an outbreak of the virus.

He noted that the government could deny access to the country to people known to have travelled to China, owing to how rapidly the virus was spreading.

“The virus offers a clear and present danger. The consequences can be dire,” he said.

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