Local public health officials are advising on a new strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19. This comes against the back ground that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has issued an alert to its member countries on the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

Over 40 cases have been reported in China, Thailand and Japan since January 2020,” noted Dr Samuel Williams Rodriguez, Medical Officer of Health.

As at Tuesday January 21, there has been one reported case in the United States of America (USA).

“While there have been no local reports of the coronavirus in the Cayman Islands, the public health department is closely monitoring the situation. At the advice of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) we continue to strengthen our surveillance efforts to detect patients with acute respiratory disease and to ensure all health care professionals are up to date with guidance on infection and prevention control, and standard recommendations to prevent infection spread of the disease, he added.

“Travellers returning from countries where there have been reported cases, and who develop breathing difficulties that are unexplained by any other illness or virus, should contact a doctor as soon as possible and state their travel history so that a correct diagnosis can be made,” Noted Dr. Williams-Rodriguez, Medical Officer of Health.

At the moment, there is no vaccine available and treatment is supportive care based on the patient’s symptoms.

The Pan American Health Organization has not advised special screening for COVID-19 at points of entry nor recommended any travel or trade restrictions.

For more information on Acute Respiratory Disease, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621.