By Caribbean News Global contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Health authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines Wednesday evening, at a press conference confirmed its first case of COVID-19: A female between 30 and 35 who returned from a meeting in the United Kingdom.
Minister of Health, Luke Browne assured the public that the patient is in isolation at home and three members of her family have been placed in quarantine.
“It is an individual who is exhibiting mild symptoms and that is consistent with what you would see in most cases of COVID-19. So we reiterate that 80 percent of the persons who get COVID-19 will only develop a mild version of the disease with limited symptoms.
“And it is only in a case where the 20 percent group that you might have a more severe version of it, but in most instances, mild or severe, you are expected to fully recover and we expect a full recovery in respect to this particular case and we note that only persons who are very old, over 80 and who have an underline health condition are vulnerable to this,” he said.
“At the moment we have in place quarantine restrictions for persons travelling from certain countries including countries in Europe, such as Italy as a case in point and there is no intention at this moment, of course, this is an evolving situation and we assess things as they develop, to carry out a broad-based ban on travel from Europe or any other particular part of the world,” Browne said.
St Vincent and the Grenadines followed COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean region of St Martin, St Barthélémy, the Dominican Republic, Martinique, and Jamaica. While Guyana on Wednesday announced one death as a result of coronavirus.
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a pandemic. Countries have been urged to do more to help stop the spread of the virus, promote proper hygiene and responsible travel.
Likewise, US president Donald Trump announced a suspension on travelers to the United States from Europe for the next 30 days, in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Mass crowd gathering has being discontinued including conferences, sporting events, the NBA, and travel on cruise ships not favoured; while airlines and hotels struggle to adjust with cancellations.
Frequent are asked: What should I do, while there is evidence that older people (60 and over), and those with underlying health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer), are at a higher risk?
“Whilst it is understandable to feel anxious about the outbreak, WHO emphasizes the fact that, if you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or have not travelled from an area where the virus is spreading, or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. Nevertheless, we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves, and others.
“Everyone should frequently wash their hands (and wash them thoroughly, with soap); maintain at least one-metre distance from anyone coughing or sneezing, and avoid physical contact when greeting; avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth; cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing; and stay home and seek medical attention from local health providers, if feeling unwell,” according to WHO.
The world economy has already taken a hit even as countries attempt to fund contingencies and inject large capital inflows into the economy, coupled with central banks’ interest rate adjustments. But with health systems overwhelmed, supply chains disrupted and the movement of people curtailed; economic activity is less likely to be buoyant.
However, WHO reiterated its call Wednesday for countries to detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their citizens, to ensure that those with just a handful of cases can prevent wider spread throughout the community.
“Although some 118,000 cases have been reported, in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of those cases are clustered in just four countries: China, Italy, South Korea and Iran. In two of those countries (China and South Korea) the numbers of new cases are, in the words of WHO, “significantly declining”. 81 countries have yet to report any COVID-19 cases and, in 57 countries, there have been only ten or fewer cases reported,” said WHO.
Even before the pandemic was announced WHO was advocating a whole-of-government approach to dealing with the crisis, on the basis that every sector, not just the health sector, is affected. Even countries in which the virus has spread throughout the community, or within large population clusters, can still turn the tide of the pandemic, said director-general Tedros Adhananon Ghebreyesu, adding that several nations have shown that the virus can be suppressed and controlled.