By Michael Jarvis, London UK
The World Health Organisation(WHO) on Thursday upgraded the coronavirus outbreak to a global public health emergency.
To date, the flu-like virus has infected more than 7,000 people across the world.
The disease had claimed 170 lives up to Thursday with all of the fatalities reported in China.
The WHO was quick to praise China for its ongoing efforts to combat the virus including an unprecedented quarantine program in which several cities have been placed on lockdown.
The United States recorded its first person-to-person transmission of the disease today.
While describing the outbreak as unprecedented, the WTO said it did not anticipate disruption to global trade and travel.
However, several countries have already intensified border controls with travellers from China subjected to health screenings upon arrival.
The UK and the US are among countries putting travellers from China into a 14-day quarantine for observation - the period it takes for the virus to incubate.
Meanwhile, Russia has closed a 2,700-mile far-east border with China.
And, in a widely reported comment which has been rounded criticised, the US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, has been quoted as saying that the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China could “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”
The government of the Cayman Islands has stepped up its coronavirus alert.
A travel advisory was issued on Thursday morning in which the Public Health Department announced that it was putting special screening procedures in place for persons coming from countries where the disease has been identified.
A statement from the department reads: “The potential for international dissemination of the virus via air travel is clear from the rise in cases reported in multiple countries.
“Public Health officials and the management of the Health Services Authority wish to assure the public on their capability to manage any imported cases of the novel coronavirus and continue to activate national contingency plans as needed.”
Members of the public are advised to take the necessary precautions to safeguard themselves and others.
Persons arriving should immediately seek medical attention and if they have any symptoms of respiratory illness as well as informing of where they have travelled to recently.
There are no reported cases of coronavirus in the Cayman Islands.
The Health Services Authority is reassuring the public that it has the necessary procedures in places to cope with the disease and already putting precautionary measures in place.