By Machela Osagboro
A 24-hour coronavirus hotline will be put in place so that hotel industry workers will have a direct connection with the quarantine and isolation centre at Margetson Ward.
The re-purposing of the ward on the old Holberton Hospital compound is currently underway as Antigua and Barbuda makes preparations in the event that the disease reaches the nation’s shores.
“The government said that they will be setting up a hotline so that if there are suspected cases, then there is a number that we could call,” general manager of the Starfish Jolly Beach Hotel, Alex Browne, told Observer.
The purpose of the hotline, he said, is a means of containing the spread of the virus on hotel properties.
“The government said that they will make available a number of rooms at the Margetson Ward. However, we were not able to ascertain how many rooms,” Browne added.
This initiative came after a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Health and hoteliers was held on Wednesday to discuss ways in which the industry could mitigate against the possible effects of the virus, officially named COVID-19, on the twin islands.
He added that health and safety measures that each hotel should implement to keep staff safe were also on the agenda.
“There was a lady from Central Board of Health and she did a little presentation on the basics of hygiene and sanitation,” Browne said.
He firmly stated that the Jolly Beach Resort is fully prepared to keep its workers safe. He added that in the face of the COVID-19 spreading so quickly across the globe, most of the hotel officials are very concerned because, “it is reported close by to us”.
“There are concerns on what to do should it happen on the island or near our property. We want to know what the government is doing in terms of any screening from the airport or sea ports,” Browne said.
He added that a follow-up meeting with the Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, will be held in English Harbour, today to establish further protocols on how hotels can deal with the virus if they encounter anyone showing symptoms.