Answering the concerns sparked by social media this morning, Jamaica health officials have determined that this morning’s suspected case “does not meet the case definition of the coronavirus”.
The Accident and Emergency Department at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew was on lock-down amid what was believed to be the first suspected case of the novel coronavirus in the island.
The person did not have a fever with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above. The travel history was to China but officials said that the patient visited an area where the virus was not in circulation. The patient’s incubation period for the virus also is said to be just outside of the period for consideration with the coronavirus being 2 to 10 days (but may extend to 14 days).
The unnamed patient traveled to China on 7th January, 2020. They then left China on the 13th of January and returned to Jamaica on the 14th January. Today would make day 15 after the patient would have left China.
Dr Carl A. R. Bruce, Medical Chief of Staff at the UWI hospital, indicated that, “because the patient had a history of travel to Asia… to China specifically… the team, rightfully so, considered whether or not one of the differential diagnosis… should be considered.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, the doctors just wanted to ensure that they discussed this. The patient is doing well. The patient does not have a fever above 38 degrees as by the case definition,” he added.
The university hospital, however, is still conducting evaluation and testing on the patient who will be discharged according to “normal protocols” as soon as that process is complete.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, backed the hospital’s handling of the case stating that, “we take this issue very seriously”.
“We believe that is better to err on the side of caution in terms of taking a very proactive position. And I am prepared to say that I suspect that is what the university team did in terms of evaluating, assessing and considering all options when it comes to this particular case,” the health minister added.
The emergency press conference was held because of rising panic on the island due to word being spread about the possibility of the deadly virus’s appearance on the island.
There are 4,593 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus globally. China has confirmed 4,537 confirmed with 6,973 suspected. 976 are said to be severe with 106 deaths. Outside of China there are 56 confirmed cases in 14 different countries.