Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley says there is no need to cause panic over the Novel Coronavirus which has spread to over 20 countries.
Speaking with the media at the CARICOM Headquarters during a press conference at the end of her one-day visit to Guyana, Mottley disclosed that Regional Ministers of Health on Monday met and were briefed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan –American Health Organisation (PAHO) on the new strain of the virus and the region’s preparedness.
Mottley said the aim is “ensuring the region can protect –first and foremost –its population but at the same time ensuring that panic does not beset our people…history has shown that panic does not assist the resolution of these matters
“Ensure that we do not go into panic mode or we do not cause our economies or societies to implode.”
The regional leader said CARICOM will take an evidence-based approach that will be appropriate to the impending risks.
The Barbadian Prime Minister said she is satisfied that the region is prepared to deal with the virus.
She alluded to the Joint Regional Communication Centre set up by CARICOM in which Member States can do real-time checks of passengers coming into the region through Interpol and the US Department of Homeland Security.
Mottley said this is the first step followed by the ability of Port Health Officers’ to do a secondary assessment.
“Of course any country can do what it wants but if you have a single domestic space as we do in the CARICOM single market, we need to make sure that there is a minimum standard below which no one falls and that is what we are trying to do recognising that the temptation to overshoot and to panic is what we’re trying to avoid,” she explained.
The Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) is expected to meet again soon to ensure systems are in place to address a threat of the virus.
The Novel Coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China and according to the BBC, as of February 03, more than 20,000 cases and 425 deaths had been reported in China.
The Guyana Government has advised against travelling to China and said anyone travelling to Guyana will likely be denied entry.
The Foreign Ministry said persons arriving in Guyana from China, will be subject to quarantine protocols and may be quarantined in a health facility or at home, depending on the outcome of the risk assessment.
The News Room has learnt that over 100 persons arrived in Guyana from China between January 1-31, 2020.
CARPHA has said that the region’s risk of being affected by the virus is very low.