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Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) by Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports & Human Services

The Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services continues to collaborate with all government authorities on a national level in actively implementing Turks and Caicos Islands preparedness and response plan for COVID-19. The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the situation related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) locally, regionally and internationally. As of January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Please be informed that there are neither suspected nor confirmed cases of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) reported in Turks and Caicos Islands.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that was previously unknown before emerging in December 2019. It is believed to have originated with animals and spread to humans at a live animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The main symptoms of the virus are fever, tiredness and coughing. According to the World Health Organization, other symptoms include aching, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. There have been confirmed cases of person-to-person transmission of the virus. The WHO says the virus “can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs.

The Ministry of Health advise residents who may show signs/systems to contact the Ministry Hot Line (649-232-9444). All returning residents who have visited infected country with high transmission such as China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14-20 days will have landing privileges but will be subject to health assessment and quarantine.

Persons who have visited China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan or Italy in the last 14-20 days and who do not have permanent residency or marriage exemption in Turks and Caicos Islands will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry (sea/air)

Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung diseases, are more at risk.

There’s no vaccine, although researchers are working on it. For now, the best way to prevent infection is hand washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. The virus spreads mostly through droplets from coughs and sneezes.

A nation-wide education campaign is underway to remind the public of basic hygiene practices that can be used to prevent the spread of the virus including:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Stay home when you are sick and do not travel.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Staying home when you are sick is recommended every flu season, but especially important now.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is following the protocol outlined in the International Health Regulation (IHR) and reporting to Public Health England/PAHO as appropriate.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggests that countries with few cases can take aggressive action now to prevent its spread.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said; “We know containment is possible, but the window of opportunity is narrowing.” He urged governments on Friday to do everything possible to contain the disease while also respecting human rights.

Contact the Ministry of Health for reliable and updated information via telephone number 338-3070/3064.

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