As we are all aware by now, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The confirmed case is a person who traveled on a British Airways flight on March 10th and is currently under isolation in Antigua. Health authorities in Antigua are tracing the patient’s contacts.
Following the recent announcement by the Antigua and Barbuda government, Montserrat’s Ministry of Health and Social Services, in collaboration with Integrated Border Security, are reviewing visitors who have been on the same flight as the confirmed case in Antigua. Such contact tracing is a normal part of the Health Team’s response.
Although Montserrat has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, my Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the entire Health Team have been working tirelessly to prevent, detect, manage and contain any potential outbreak in Montserrat as a matter of public health emergency.
We understand that people are concerned, but we are making sure that the right steps are being taken to try to prevent and minimize the impact of the virus.
As Premier and Minister of Finance, I am keenly aware that Montserrat’s national security and economic prosperity require meaningful investment in public health security. So on my direction, the Government is deploying the full range of resources at our disposal to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Montserrat.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services has been working closely with the necessary agents to protect Montserrat’s shores. We would have increased surveillance and ramped up our port health obligations which involve screening persons at both the airport and seaport, as well as scrutinizing cruise ships before and during their visit. The Ministry would have also activated their pandemic influenza plan, identified isolation and quarantine facilities, and trained staff to deal with the arrival of cases.
I would like to remind persons who have visited affected countries and subsequently developed symptoms of the coronavirus that they should stay at home and contact the Casualty Department at the Glendon Hospital on 491 2802 or 491 2836.
The public can rest assured that the Ministry of Health and the whole of Government are focused on maximum transparency and ensuring that all necessary information available, particularly that of medical experts and professionals of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Public Health England, CARICOM and the OECS is being utilized to the benefit of Montserrat.
We will continue to update the public as more information becomes available regarding the situation in Antigua and our own contact tracing.
Let me close by saying that as with all outbreaks, this global pandemic will end. In the meantime, I am pleading with everyone to take personal responsibility in trying to minimize the risk of exposure by taking these simple precautions:
1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel.
2. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow; dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
3. Avoid close contact with anyone who has coughing and fever
4. And practice social distancing
Remember, those who are most at risk are the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. I would like all residents to remember three things – Be aware…use only reliable sources… be prepared… and Act.
This virus is transmitted through close contact with infected persons or touching contaminated objects or surfaces.
I will continue to update the public as the situation evolves