(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – THE Caribbean is on high alert for the deadly Covid-19 after the first case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in Latin America.
On February 26, the Ministry of Health of Brazil confirmed the country’s first case of Covid-19.
The patient is a 61-year-old man who recently returned from Italy where an outbreak of the virus has been ongoing since last week.
The latest diagnosis comes during the height of Brazil’s week-long carnival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) called on countries to intensify their plans to prepare and respond to Covid-19, given the appearance of cases of new coronavirus disease in the region of the Americas.
PAHO noted in the event of an outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean, the impact on health services may be significant, with the possibility that health services may become overwhelmed, including a high demand for specialised hospital services such as intensive care.
“For several weeks, countries in the Americas have been preparing for the possible importation of cases of Covid-19. There are measures in place for detecting, diagnosing and caring for patients with the disease,” PAHO director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.
“A strong emphasis on stopping transmission continues to be an important objective while recognising that the situation may vary from country to country and will require tailored responses.
“A multisectoral response to ensure strengthened surveillance, health service readiness, preventing spread and maintaining essential services are key interventions to slowing transmission and saving lives. Countries of the Americas have already been working on these areas since 2009 as part of their pandemic influenza plans. PAHO stands ready to support countries in rolling out these plans,” she stated.
Guyana, whose southern neighbour is Brazil, has stepped up surveillance efforts for the virus at all ports of entry, including the Moleson Creek Crossing, which connects Guyana to Suriname; Eugene F Correia International Airport; Cheddi Jagan International Airport; and at the Guyana-Lethem border.
Yesterday, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands blocked a cruise ship from Miami-based cruise line MSC Cruises from entering amid fears of the coronavirus.
The ship eventually docked in Mexico.
Virus spreads in Italy, South Korea
So far, there have been more than 82,000 Covid-19 cases in 51 countries and regions.
In China alone, 78,497 have been reported, with a death toll of more than 2,744.
According to international news reports, South Korea and Italy have seen the fastest growth among countries with coronavirus outbreaks.
Italy has reported 17 deaths from the coronavirus and over 650 cases in the recent outbreak, up from six deaths last Friday.
South Korea has confirmed 1,766 cases of the virus.
Among the countries with the coronavirus in the Middle East, Iran has the highest number of coronavirus cases, followed by Bahrain and Kuwait.
Iran has reported 139 cases and 19 deaths in the past week, while Bahrain and Kuwait have reported 33 and 43 cases respectively.
Despite the outbreak, Iran President Hassan Rouhani has said he has no plans to quarantine any cities and towns.
In other parts of Asia, the virus has also been spreading rapidly.
As of yesterday, Japan confirmed 894 cases while Singapore recorded 96 cases.
South Korea- 1766
Hong Kong- 92