Jamaica Turns Back 19 Chinese Nationals

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Nineteen Chinese nationals who landed in Jamaica on Friday night were denied entry, quarantined and put back on an aeroplane on Saturday morning as the country enforced its travel ban in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton informed the Jamaica Observer about the action as he confirmed that a Jamaican woman in her mid-20s, who had arrived back home last week from China, is now under quarantine at Annotto Bay Hospital after she turned up with a high fever.

“We have no confirmation yet of coronavirus, but she is being held out of an abundance of caution,” Dr Tufton said, adding that the patient is to be transferred to St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

Late Saturday evening the health and wellness ministry issued a release, saying that the patient, who presented at the Annotto Bay Hospital with complaints of a headache, anorexia, chills, dryness to the throat and generalised weakness, “does not, at this time, meet the case definition for novel coronavirus”.

“The patient – who landed in Jamaica on January 30 – reported no history of cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, vomiting, muscle pain or diarrhoea. Further, the patient’s vitals, including blood pressure, pulse rate, blood oxygen, and temperature all registered normal. The patient does not, therefore, meet the case definition for novel coronavirus,” added.

“However, as a precaution, the patient has been put in isolation and will remain in isolation until the symptoms abate,” the ministry said.

In relation to the 19 Chinese, Dr Tufton said they arrived on vacation but were held at the Norman Manley International Airport, then transferred to a holding area in Kingston after which they were sent back on a flight early yesterday morning.

On Friday, Jamaica imposed a ban on travel to and from China, a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international emergency over the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus.

Under the ban, all individuals entering the island from China will be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

“Quarantine facilities for these persons will be provided by the Government of Jamaica and persons will be required to adhere to all restrictions, in line with provisions under the Quarantine Act,” Tufton said at a news conference held in St Ann where the Cabinet was on retreat.

“Individuals returning from China who have been granted landing privileges and who show any symptom of the novel coronavirus will be put in immediate isolation. Isolation facilities are operational at all public hospitals, with a specialist facility available at the National Chest Hospital,” he added.