The Cayman Islands government will decide this week if it will institute travel restrictions in light of the global coronavirus outbreak.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak, which started in China, as a global public health emergency.
The Cayman Islands National Security Council will meet early in the week to review the current situation consider whether travel restrictions may be in the national interest and any further action deemed necessary.
The announcement was made on Friday by Hon. Dwayne Seymour, Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housing.
In a statement to the Legislative Assembly, he reported that the Department of Public Health held a multi-sectoral meeting on Wednesday 29th January to update and assess the territory’s preparedness to handle the coronavirus crisis.
Amongst the attendees were senior members of Customs and Border Control, the Port Authority, the Airports Authority, Ministry of Tourism and staff from across the Health Services Authority.
According to the Health Minister, “Plans for managing arriving passengers and people who may be at risk from the novel coronavirus were discussed in detail.
“Additionally, plans for transferring and managing patients who require hospital care were also discussed.”
With much global attention on travel as countries take steps to reduce the risk the of the disease spreading, Minister Seymour said that the Department of Public Health is communicating with Cayman Airways and with the cruise industry, offering support and advice.
He confirmed that the cruise ship companies are screening all joining passengers.
Highly visible information for arriving passengers will be placed at the ports within days.
“It is also reassuring to know that travellers who are coming from China are being screened on arrival in the USA, Canada, the UK and beyond,” Minister Seymour added.
Other precautionary steps that have already been put in place include Customs and Border officers already screening all arriving passengers for travel histories to China.
Minister Seymour outlined that in instances where arriving passengers have recently been to China, the Department of Public Health will then be notified.
Those persons will be monitored during the incubation period of the disease and provided healthcare support as necessary.
He informed that the Health Services Authority is taking forward plans to increase its capacity to respond to the outbreak including sourcing additional equipment and supplies.
Private healthcare providers are also on alert to provide the necessary support.
Masks will be placed at the entrances to clinics across the islands for people with respiratory symptoms.
The Public is reminded to “be in the know” about 2019-nCoV (the 2019 novel coronavirus).
This virus is one of a family of corona viruses which include one causing the common cold. However, this particular strain has not been encountered before.
In any travel abroad, the Public is advised to practice general infection control measures.
These include frequent hand-cleansing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.