Interim Guidance on Novel Coronavirus for Travellers
• There is an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that includes the common cold, and temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”
• Initially, most patients were linked to a large seafood and live animal market, which was closed by Health officials on January 1, 2020, for cleaning and disinfection.
• Person-to-person spread is occurring in the Wuhan community, increasing the risk of international spread by travellers.
• The immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general public in the Caribbean remains LOW.
• Travellers to Wuhan, China, should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and contact with sick people.
• Travellers from Wuhan to Caribbean Countries may be asked questions about their health and travel history upon arrival, but entrance temperature screening is not recommended.
• This notice will be updated as more information becomes available on the outbreak.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is closely monitoring the outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak which started in December 2019 is reported to have affected more than 500 persons up to 22 January. CARPHA has activated its Incident Management Team for Emergency Response and is working closely with its international health partners to respond to this health threat and provide timely advice and assistance to Caribbean Countries.
What is Novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
What are the common signs and symptoms of infection?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. This 2019 virus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The cases in the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak have tested negative for both SARS and MERS-CoV. (1,2)
While we don’t know the routes of transmission of 2019-nCoV, from what we know about other coronaviruses, they are mainly transmitted by (3):
• large respiratory droplets and direct or indirect contact with infected secretions
• other coronaviruses have been detected in blood, faeces and urine; and
• there have been some instances when airborne transmission of other coronaviruses was thought to have taken place through exposure to aerosols of respiratory secretions and sometimes faecal material.
Since this is a newly discovered virus, this information will be updated as more information becomes available.
Section I. Guidance for Travellers coming to the Caribbean
Travellers are advised to:
• Practice general infection control measures, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Travellers coming to the Caribbean from a nCoV affected country may undergo entrance screening if travelling through certain ports in the United States and in some Caribbean countries (see Section II below).
Section II. Guidance for Travellers arriving from or returning to the Caribbean from a Novel Coronavirus affected country
Travelers arriving from or returning to the Caribbean from a nCoV affected country may face special screening measures in Caribbean countries. Travelers are advised to:
• Seek information about the current nCoV situation and remain aware of up-to-date information from the WHO or the Ministry of Health in the destination country.
• When leaving the affected area, you may be screened by airport officials and again at airports in the USA and other countries. They may take your temperature and ask about your activities to assess the likelihood of you acquiring the infection.
• Some Caribbean countries also may be screening passengers from affected areas. They may take your temperature and ask about your activities to assess the likelihood of you acquiring the infection and may ask you to complete a survey with your travel history.
When travelling from a country with reported cases of nCoV travellers should:
a) Seek medical attention if you develop symptoms of nCoV during travel and state your travel history.
b) If you have symptoms during travel or upon arrival into a Caribbean country or territory, tell a flight attendant immediately, OR a port health officer or a border services officer when you arrive. They will determine whether you need further medical assessment.
c) Monitor your health upon your return or entry into the Caribbean from a country affected by the Novel Coronavirus.
d) Seek medical attention if notice any of the symptoms within 14 days after your arrival in the Caribbean: fever, headache, fatigue, severe and nonproductive cough, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea or any other severe symptoms.
e) Be sure to tell your healthcare provider that you have travelled to a region where Novel coronavirus was present. Make sure to tell them about the activities or work you participated in and whether there was contact with a person known or suspected to have been infected by the nCoV.
Section III. Guidance for Travellers going to a 2019 novel coronavirus affected Area
CARPHA advises anyone travelling to an area affected by novel coronavirus should pay attention to health alerts and take necessary precautions.
• Seek information about the current nCOV situation and remain aware of up-to-date information.
While you are in an area with reported cases of nCOV:
2. The virus can spread through person to person contact
1 CDC, 2020. Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China available at https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00426.asp
2 The 2019-nCoV Outbreak Joint Field Epidemiology Investigation Team, Qun Li. An Outbreak of NCIP (2019-nCoV) Infection in China — Wuhan, Hubei Province, 2019−2020[J]. China CDC Weekly, 2020,2(5): 79-80.
3 Public Health England, 2020. Wuhan novel coronavirus: epidemiology, virology and clinical features
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