The Cayman Islands Public Health Department is keeping a close watch on the outbreak of the coronavirus in China which has now spread to other countries.
One person is known to have died in the United States who is said to have visited the area in China where the outbreak started.
There are no reported cases of the disease in the Cayman Islands and public health authorities here have assured that they are monitoring the situation closely.
Seventeen people have died in China and over 500 hundred have so far been reported to have caught the deadly respiratory virus which has flu-like symptoms.
According to Cayman Islands Medical Officer for Health, Dr Samuel Williams Rodriguez: “While there have been no local reports of the coronavirus in the Cayman Islands, the public health department is closely monitoring the situation.
“At the advice of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) we continue to strengthen our surveillance efforts to detect patients with acute respiratory disease and to ensure all health care professionals are up to date with guidance on infection and prevention control, and standard recommendations to prevent infection spread of the disease”, he stated.
Dr Rodriguez has also advised that: “Travellers returning from countries where there have been reported cases, and who develop breathing difficulties that are unexplained by any other illness or virus, should contact a doctor as soon as possible and state their travel history so that a correct diagnosis can be made.”
At the moment, there is no vaccine available and treatment is supportive care based on the patient’s symptoms.
The World Health Organisation(WHO) has confirmed that the virus which has been traced to the city of Wuhan, China, has to date spread rapidly across Asia, with cases reported in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The Pan American Health Organization has not advised special screening for the coronavirus at points of entry nor recommended any travel or trade restrictions in the Caribbean/Latin America region.
However, that advice could be changed.
The WHO was meeting this week to determine is the current situation warranted a global pandemic alert.
WHO physicians said they’ve found evidence of human-to-human transmission. The virus was first noted for his transmission from among animals, then from animal to humans.
The coronavirus is being compared to the SARS outbreak of 2003.
However, while SARS took almost two months to spread to around 400 people, the rapid spread of this strain of the coronavirus to over 500 in less than a month is a cause for concern by global health experts.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said there was an increased likelihood of the virus occurring in the country.
However, he said while there are presently no known cases, the National Health Service (NHS) was "well prepared" to handle an outbreak.
Flights from China arriving in the UK are being monitored as a precaution.
Similar measures have been put in place in the US.
In Wuhan, China where the outbreak started, the city has been placed under lockdown with the transportation network closed.