Ministry of Health Officials wearing face masks during their update on Friday morning at ZJB Radio. (screenshot)
Ministry of Health Officials wearing face masks during their update on Friday morning at ZJB Radio. (screenshot)

Public Health Officials Looking at Montserrat’s New COVID-19 Cases Over 120 Days Old

Montserrat is now reporting a second active case of COVID-19 on island.
Minister of Health Charles T. Kirnon confirmed this on Friday morning as part of an update from his ministry.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry said the new case was confirmed late Thursday night and contact tracing is now on the way. The CMO added that the new case as with the previous one announced last week, were discovered when they requested testing to allow for international travel.
Both patients have been on island since March and were asymptomatic. This, the CMO said has brought additional attention to the island as health officials globally are looking at the shelf-life of the virus as it has gone beyond previous data of 60 days. The patients exposure would have been as early as March and in the 120 day range.

Dr Greenaway-Duberry said this is a new phenomenon called particle shedding which is still being researched.  “Patients can be shedding particles of the virus for a very long time and they were probably shedding fragments.” She added that the PCR test, which can now be done on island, is very sensitive and it will detect the slightest fragment present in the body. “This is all new information and we are working with Public Health England to develop new protocols.”

Contact tracing for the new patient, who brings the island’s number of positive cases to 13 is underway.

Epidemiologist Dr. Dorothea Hazel-Blake said residents need to continue to practice social distancing and wear face masks.  While the World Health Organisation has reported that studies show that the contribution to the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic patients is extremely small, it is important to protect yourself in all social settings. She said this proved true with the patient 12 whose entire household was tested and everyone had a negative result.

Dr. Hazel-Blake said residents must be aware that if family members or friends abroad want to come on island consider the impact on living arrangements. Everyone in the household will be placed in quarantine. The risk associated with people from UK and US is high all will be required to be quarantined.

Montserrat currently has two isolation facilities. The physio therapy unit at the Glendon Hospital was converted into six-bed isolation facility. One floor of Margetson Memorial is also an isolation facility, made possible with COVID-19 funds.

COVID-19 stats to date are as followed”

120 – persons tested
13 confirmed cases
2 active cases
0 pending
No hospitalizations
Number in quarantine to increase after they do contact tracing for new patient.