HOW concerned should you be about the coronavirus epidemic? The latest step in precautions to prevent the spread of the virus may seem drastic – a check on people coming to The Bahamas if they have been to China in the last 20 days – but the important word to bear in mind is that it is a precaution.
Let’s not play down this risk – the World Health Organisation yesterday declared the outbreak in China to be a public health emergency of international concern, after all. But at the same time, it is important not to overreact.
There are no suspected, reported or confirmed cases of the virus in The Bahamas – and with a lack of direct flights between here and China, we’re looking at a limited number of people coming into the country who may have been in an affected area, and to do so they will have passed through ports of entry in other nations who will also be taking their own precautions.
That said, two Bahamian residents have already been quarantined in order to ensure they have not carried the virus to our shores from their departure point, and such measures will continue to limit the risk of it spreading.
We are, of course, one of the top tourism destinations in the world, and with strong links to China these days, so it is inevitable that this is a risk we must confront.
And that’s where you can play a part. As the chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health says, pay attention – take note of travel warnings, be cautious if you are in an affected region to avoid direct contact with sick people or products that come from animals, and wash, wash, wash. Use disinfectant, wash your hands often, and if you have a cough or a sneeze? Cover your mouth when you do.
A 14-day quarantine will be in place for people coming into the country from China – so don’t try and fool people and pretend you haven’t. Follow the rules and do what you can to stop spreading the virus.
So to repeat the question we started off with – how concerned should you be? If everyone plays their part, hopefully not too concerned. If all goes well, the quarantine and other measures will limit the likelihood of the coronavirus reaching The Bahamas and contain it if it does.
But out of an abundance of caution, everyone should take note of what can help and follow the guidance of health experts. Containing this virus is not just down to health experts – no, rather it is down to each one of us to do what we can to restrict its spread.
There’s no need for panic – just simple determination on our part to do what we can to stop it in its tracks.
There are no cases of the coronavirus here in The Bahamas yet – so let’s keep it that way.