French Islands Confirm 3 Cases of Coronavirus, Montserrat Ramps Up Controls

Three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as positive in the northern islands of the French West Indies. The Pasteur Laboratory in Guadeloupe conducted the analysis on a resident of Saint Barths and his parents who were visiting, the Agence Regionale de Sante/Regional Health Agency said Sunday.

The resident of Saint-Barthélemy is currently confined to his home with daily surveillance. His state of health is not worrying. The parents have been placed in solitary confinement at the Saint-Martin hospital and are being closely followed. Officials said their state of health was not worrying.

Samples from people who they have been in contact with are being analyzed. Two other possible cases being processed is a couple from French Saint-Martin who recently returned from vacation in Oise. (Update: Both tested negative for the virus)

To date, there are no confirmed cases in Guadeloupe. However, as the Director-General of WHO said, “the virus has no borders” and the potential risk of having cases anywhere in the world is very high. It should be noted that the strongest possibility of entry of the virus into Guadeloupe is the arrival of asymptomatic people, either visiting or returning home, who will not declare the infection until a few days later.

NBC News is reporting that health officials in the Dominican Republic on Sunday reported the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the tourist-rich Caribbean, a 62-year-old Italian citizen.

Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas said the man had arrived in the country on Feb. 22 without showing symptoms. He was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and “has not shown serious complications.”

The announcement came shortly before the Braemar cruise ship that had been denied entry to the Dominican Republic due to the virus fears apparently at last found a place to dock — the Dutch territory of St. Maarten.

French health officials said the potential spread of the virus increases with close contact of a least 10 minutes and through contaminated hands. As people use their hands on average every minute it encourages the entry of the virus through the eyes, nose and mouth.

To avoid the spread, you absolutely must avoid kissing to say hello, avoid shaking hands, wash your hands at least every hour, use hydro-alcoholic solutions, sneeze in your elbow, use disposable handkerchiefs. Wearing the mask in the absence of disease is not useful because it is mainly the hands which carries the virus. Masks are useful for sick people when they are in the presence of other people and for caregivers who are in close contact with the sick.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) increased the region’s risk level from low to “Moderate to High” on the weekend. Montserrat health officials reiterate they have made preparation for assessing visitors upon arrival and have enacted the Quarantine Act. Non-essential travel advisory to areas with confirmed cases is in place.

Follow the Montserrat Health Facebook page for updates.

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