Montserrat’s Health Ministry To Ramp Up COVID-19 Border Patrols Ahead of St. Patrick’s Festival

Chief Medical Officer for the Ministry of Health, Dr Sharra Greenaway-Duberry.

The National Influenza Plan has been activated and additional supplies are on order to ramp up Montserrat’s preventative measures for the potential arrival of the coronavirus, now named COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry and Epidemiologist and Director of Primary Health Care, Dr. Dorthea Hazel-Blake shared on national radio last Friday that they are constantly being updated on developments with the virus including travel bans and new outbreaks from regional medical counterparts, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Public Health England.

The CMO said they have prepared an information paper to the Cabinet of the Government of Montserrat on COVID-19 and what the island needs to be ready for a possible outbreak. Additional funds were requested and received and more supplies have been ordered.

“Our local stocks are good,” said the CMO, adding that they have face masks, gowns, and face shields for health personnel. More personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves and overalls are on the way. This is necessary that in case of an outbreak, the island has enough for medical staff as well as the infected.

The ministry has also been training health workers and other stakeholders including Border Protection as they are the front line officers for safeguarding the island’s ports. An information leaflet for travellers is also being distributed and community sensitisation continues.

Dr Greenaway-Duberry said they are working with Border Protection on identifying sick travellers and those arriving from high risk areas. The list of high risk countries, she added, is being updated daily and the situation remains dynamic.

The CMO also stated that the island’s Quarantine Act has been reviewed and they have submitted a request to appoint the relevant authority when necessary. The ministry has also activated the National Influenza Plan, which designates the clinics and areas at the local hospital for the management of patients who may need to be quarantined.

The physician stated that with the island hosting the Leeward Islands Debating Competition at the end of February and St. Patrick’s Festival starting on March 6th, they were confident of their preparedness and ability to handle any cases.

The public can expect to see health officials at ports of entry during peak travel periods. They will also be closely monitoring cruise vessels and ensuring they submit health declaration forms of the state of their crew and passengers ahead of docking in Port Little Bay.

Proper hand washing, covering your mouth when coughing and seeking medical attention if showing symptoms of the virus is recommended.

Listen to the full interview here —