Jamaica confirms first case of coronavirus

Jamaica's Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton speaks at a press conference in Kingston Tuesday, where he announced that Jamaica is treating its first confirmed coronavirus patient.
Jamaica's Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton speaks at a press conference in Kingston Tuesday, where he announced that Jamaica is treating its first confirmed coronavirus patient.

A female patient in Jamaica has contracted coronavirus, Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton announced at a press conference at his New Kingston offices on Tuesday.

The woman, a Jamaican national, has been in isolation since Monday, 9 March, after showing respiratory symptoms, Tufton said.

According to her travel history, she returned to Jamaica from the United Kingdom on 4 March, Tufton said in a press statement.

Cases of coronavirus have also been confirmed in three other Caribbean countries – the Dominican Republic, St Martin, and St Barts.

The Cayman Islands has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. As of Monday, five people had been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results of laboratory tests.

Cayman’s health minister, Dwayne Seymour, told the Cayman Compass that it was “most unfortunate” to hear of the confirmed coronavirus case in Jamaica “so near to us”.

“I have full confidence, with all the expertise and experience that Jamaica has, they will quickly contain this. I wish Jamaica all the best and we send out our prayers to the family of the person infected and wish them a speedy recovery,” Seymour added.

Tufton told reporters at the press briefing that a health team had been sent to the home of the patient “for assessment and initiation of public health measures” and officials were identifying and tracing anyone who had been exposed to her.

Jamaica has expanded its travel restrictions, adding three countries – Spain, France and Germany – to its list of restricted destinations, which include China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran.

Tufton said public gatherings and non-essential travel was being discouraged, adding that Jamaica would continue to patrol irregular border crossings. The country has already designated four quarantine facilities, and Tufton said others would be identified.

He added, “We are finalising the retrofitting of isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals.”

In his statement, Tufton appealed to the Jamaican public “to remain calm and to implement all the advisories relating to personal hygiene, social distancing, and overall infection prevention control”.

Read Dr. Christopher Tufton’s press statement here.

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