Vincentians will be provided with details of this country’s response to the global threat posed by the novel corona virus, during a News Conference to be hosted by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment today.

The Briefing will be addressed by Health Minister Luke Browne, while the technical team will be led by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache.

The event will held at the Ministry of Health’s Conference Room from 1:00 p.m. today.

The Ministry of Health says although the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak in Wuhan, China as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the risk of the virus affecting the Caribbean remains low, according to Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Following these announcements and updates from the WHO and CARPHA, the National Surveillance Committee in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment convened a meeting with stakeholders of NEMO yesterday Friday, January 31, to inform and update the various ministries and sectors of the preparatory work that is being done by the Ministry of Health and to outline the roles and responsibilities of the various sectors and Ministries to ensure the country remains free of Coronavirus.

The Ministry explained that a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is defined in the International Health Regulations (2005) as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations, to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a co-ordinated international response”.

The Ministry said this definition implies a situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected, and has implications for public health beyond the border of the affected state, and may require immediate international action.

According to the Ministry, the Caribbean’s low risk status, as defined by CARPHA, is because there are no direct flights from China to the Caribbean and travelers will receive multiple screenings before arrival to CARICOM Member States including St Vincent and the Grenadines. Despite this low risk status, the Ministry of Health requests that travelers note the following:

  1. Non-essential travel to main land China and countries with significant person to person transmission of 2019-nCoV should be avoided.
  2. All travelers to SVG from main land China and countries with significant transmission will be isolated in their homes as appropriate for a period of 14 days after departure from China. Public Health Officials will conduct daily monitoring of these individuals.
  3. Travelers will be asked by immigration officials about their travel history as part of our heightened surveillance.

In the meantime, the Ministry is urging the public to practice the following routine but effective virus spreading preventative measures by:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  3. Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you do not have a tissue
  4. Avoid close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms
  5. Thoroughly cook meat and eggs before consumption.