Coronavirus reaches Caribbean; CARICOM leaders plan response

by March 1st, 2020

Caricom leaders and health officials have come together to strategize the response of the region to the novel coronavirus in the wake of reports that the virus has been confirmed in some islands.


The Caribbean leaders held a meeting earlier today to discuss the situation, many of them, including Jamaica’s Prime Minister linking via teleconference.


Andrew Holness posted on his official Facebook page that he participated in the emergency meeting of Caricom heads of government, to consider protocols and management of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases on passenger ships in the region.


Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Chief Medical Officer, and other officials, also participated.


Mr. Holness said the meeting has taken on even greater importance now that cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic, St. Barts and St. Martin.


According to news from the region, three cases of the corona virus have been confirmed in the French Islands of St. Barts and Saint Martin.


The cases involve a resident of St. Barts and his parents who were visiting.


The resident has been confined at home under daily surveillance, while his parents have been isolated in hospital.


The AFP is also reporting that there two other possible cases of the virus in saint-martin.


Samples are presently being processed.


And, health officials in the Dominican Republic reported the first confirmed case of the new corona virus, in a 62-year-old Italian man, who had arrived in the country on February 22, without showing symptoms.


The man is being treated in isolation at a military hospital, and has not shown any serious complications.


The announcements came amid reports of a British cruise ship being denied entry to the Dominican Republic due to virus fears.


The ship was later allowed to dock in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten.


Fred Olsen cruise lines said that two chartered airliners would carry passengers back to Britain.


Meantime, France has reported a case of the virus in its overseas territory, Guadeloupe.