Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
AS fears mount over a new strain of the deadly coronavirus, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said there is still no travel restriction or extra screening for Chinese travellers to The Bahamas unless individuals have travelled from the impacted areas, have a fever or respiratory symptoms.
This comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided not to declare the new coronavirus a global emergency.
Dr Sands explained to The Tribune: “They (WHO) specifically did not declare this to be a public health emergency of international concern, that there is no need for restrictive approaches to travel and/or commerce. That there is specifically no reason to have masks on, or check temperatures at the border etc, at least not in the Caribbean.”
In WHO’s situation report, the organisation noted health officials are working with their “networks of researchers and other experts to coordinate global work on surveillance, epidemiology, modelling, diagnostics, clinical care and treatment, and other ways to identify, manage the disease and limit onward transmission.”
Since the outbreak in Wuhan, China, the virus has killed at least 18 people and sickened nearly 600, according reports. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. The virus is spread from human to human, and is likely transmitted by coughing or sneezing.
Dr Sands said his ministry is keeping an eye on updates and officials have heightened surveillance for virus symptoms, but “there are far more deadly viruses that are in the Bahamas.”
“While this is something (that) we are paying very close attention to, I want people to remember that we had 130,000 people (around the world) die from measles last year. You had almost a half a million people die from flu last year and probably that same number will die from flu around the world,” he said previously.