Thursday 20 February, 2020

Mitchell: Coronavirus precautions in place ahead of tourist arrivals

A health official scans the body temperature of a passenger as she arrives at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia, Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Indonesia is screening travellers from overseas for a new type of coronavirus as fears spread about a mysterious infectious disease after its first death reported in China. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

A health official scans the body temperature of a passenger as she arrives at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia, Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Indonesia is screening travellers from overseas for a new type of coronavirus as fears spread about a mysterious infectious disease after its first death reported in China. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Measures have been put in place to ensure that a deadly new coronavirus does not enter the country.

The assurance comes from Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell ahead of the arrival of some 5000 visitors hailing from Italy, France, Germany, England, Portugal, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other countries.

The passengers, travelling aboard the MSC Preziosa Cruise line, are expected to arrive in Trinidad on Thursday.

This will be the first cruise ship to arrive in the country since the virus was discovered.

The cruise visitors will be greeted by an exciting cultural presentation, which includes entertainment by Moko Jumbies and other Carnival characters. Hundreds will go on pre-arranged tours to popular tourist sites and attractions, while others will remain in the city and get a glimpse of the recently restored Red House.

Taking into account these arrivals, Mitchell assured that the Ministry will closely monitor the situation through its inter-agency linkage to ensure that T&T’s population is not affected by the threat of the virus.

The Tourism Ministry is closely collaborating with CARPHA to ensure that measures are put in place to safeguard public health.

Through the Tourism and Health Programme, which involves CARPHA, the Health Ministry and Tourism Ministry, updates and bulletins will be disseminated to the primary stakeholders in the tourism sector.

The new coronavirus, which appears to have originated from the Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province in China, has triggered enhanced screening measures at airports as authorities work to stem the spread of the virus – which has already seen a sharp increase in numbers in China.

As reported by the Associated Press, Chinese authorities have said that deaths associated with the virus have reached 17, while 444 are confirmed to have contracted the illness.

The United States has already recorded its first case in Washington.

The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause the common cold and more serious illnesses, such SARS. Between 2002 and 2003 the SARS outbreak spread from China to more than a dozen countries and killed around 800 people.

Some experts have drawn parallels between the new coronavirus and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus that is not easily transmitted among humans and is thought to be carried by camels.

Officials said it was too early to compare the new virus with SARS or MERS in terms of how lethal it might be.

The World Health Organization is yet to determine whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency as it said it needs more information to make a decision.

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