Montserrat has been added to the international database of confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) said Tuesday evening that the patient travelled to Montserrat on March 10th, 2020 on British Airways flight (BA 2157) from London to Antigua, before arriving on Montserrat. The patient subsequently developed symptoms consistent with the virus.
On learning last Friday from the Antiguan authorities that a passenger on that flight had fallen ill with the COVID-19, the MOHSS activated its outbreak investigation protocol to locate, assess and quarantine all passengers on the said flight.
Samples from three individuals were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) lab in Trinidad for testing. “Today we received confirmation from CARPHA that one patient tested positive for COVID-19. The patient in isolation, and is being treated and closely monitored,” stated Minister of Health and Social Services, Charles T. Kirnon.
The Ministry of Health noted that the patient is doing well and will remain in isolation until given the all clear by doctors following the isolation period and further testing.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry said to date, they have made contact with 75% of the people who came in on that BA flight. She said they have been asked to self isolate along with the other members of the household. The names of the remaining passengers have been handed over to the police to track down. As of Sunday, the CMO said all of the passengers were registered as still on island.
Officials said that they recognise that people are concerned and reassured the public that they continued to implement measures in the best interest of all.
“To date we have monitored patients and close contacts in the home of those presently quarantined; contact tracing is ongoing to identify all possible exposed persons; restricted visiting at the hospital and senior citizens’ homes; limited and flexible public sector working; closed schools and banned public gatherings of more than 50 persons”, stated Minister Kirnon.
The Ministry of Health and Social also reminded the public that, they should:
- Refrain from public gatherings
- Maintain social distance
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Non-essential travel is also discouraged.
The Ministry of Health is urging the public to adhere to these risk mitigation measures and to take all necessary precautions against contracting COVID-19.
The risk can be reduced by practicing frequent hand washing, covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your flexed elbow and avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory illnesses.
Now that a case has been confirmed, the ministry plans to further increase its public information.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact the Glendon Hospital Casualty Department by 491 2802 or 2836 or 2552. They have been advised not to go to the hospital but call only.
On Thursday morning there will be a flu clinic at St Peter’s Health Centre from 9AM to 5PM. A doctor and nurse will be available. Visit that clinic only if you have symptoms. Other regular services will be transferred to other community clinics.