The minister’s remarks immediately follow news that the territory has recorded its first two cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Those two male patients — a 56-year-old and 32-year-old — were tested among 27 persons overall. The remaining 25 persons had negative test results.
Giving a breakdown of the of number of persons being monitored locally, Malone said: “There are also 117 persons inclusive of the number above currently on self-quarantine due to the level of risk.”
The minister further said the territory would undergo testing, containment, quarantine, contact tracing and follow-up strategies “around the clock in accordance with World Health Organization technical guidance”.
In the meantime, the Health Minister informed residents during a live broadcast with the Premier and the Governor on Wednesday that his ministry had assessed the preparedness of the territory’s health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand of services.
He stated that they continue to address the “existing gaps” relating to additional supplies and equipment to deal with the virus.
“Although at this present time we have enough personal protective equipment on the island for our health facilities … as the needs grows, we are importing and purchasing additional amounts. We have a storage of respiratory medicine, and as the need grow, we will assess this further for any additional orderings that may occur.”
He said these efforts areas supported by a communications campaign to keep the public updated on the virus and its impact.
He then urged residents to adhere to infection prevention and control measures, “as they will be key in reducing the spread of the virus.”
It was only yesterday, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, while speaking in the boardroom of the Office of the House of Assembly (HoA) at the latest in a series of weekly COVID-19 press conferences, that Premier Fahie said that even though the Territory hadn’t a confirmed case of COVID-19 it was going to ensure measures are in place in the event the virus reaches these shores.
“But the truth be told, there exists no country no territory, that will have all the resources to handle a full territory or countrywide outbreak. So the key here is prevention and the key here is, if a case is confirmed, to ensure that is contained so it doesn't spread,” he said.
Proactive measures previously taken by Government included setting up quarantine spaces at Dr D. Orlando Smith Hospital, purchasing and ordering of test kits, banning of cruise ship calls to the Territory for a month, closing of the borders to inbound passengers, closing of public and private schools for two weeks, restricting operating hours for businesses to 6:00am to 8:00pm and limiting gatherings to no more than 20 persons.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in its latest published count today, March 25, 2020, there have been 467,520 confirmed cases across 195 countries and 21,174 deaths.
The Dominican Republic has the largest confirmed cases in the Caribbean- 392.
The neighbouring US Virgin Islands (USVI) has 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
To date, COVID-19 has infected nearly half-million persons around the world and has killed more than 20,000 people so far.
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