Montserrat at Low Risk for Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, Says Health Officials

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has activated its preparedness measures and protocols for the management of respiratory illnesses, in response to the novel corona virus outbreak in other countries—even as Montserrat is ranked at ‘low risk’ of the novel corona virus outbreak.

According to a Government of Montserrat press release “On December 31, 2019 the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The virus did not match any other
known virus. Since then Chinese authorities confirmed that they had indeed identified a new virus. This new virus, since called Novel Coronavirus forms part of a family of viruses that include the common cold and Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS).

With over 500 confirmed cases in China, 17 deaths and a reported case in the United States of America; the world has grown increasingly concerned with containing its spread.

A team from the Ministry of Health and Social Services led by Director of Primary Health Care, Dr. Dorothea Hazel–Blake joined a virtual meeting of regional stakeholders lead by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to determine the Caribbean’s risk and response.

The consensus from the meeting is that “the risk of the infection reaching the Caribbean region is low. However, the Ministry of Health and Social Services remains alert and are presently actively preparing, should the disease reach our shores.

“Some of the preparedness measures being put in place include reviewing and updating the existing protocols for the management of respiratory illnesses to ensure that we have the capacity to effectively diagnose and treat should the need arise,” stated Dr. Dorothea Hazel-Blake.

The general public is urged to practice good hygiene such as frequent handwashing with soap and water and covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing as any respiratory virus can be spread by droplets from an infected person.

Residents of Montserrat should also remain attentive to news reports as new information emerges on the Novel Coronavirus.

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