By Dave Cambridge

In the press conference, it was clear that the media houses would play a key role in the wellbeing of the public in relation to the Novel Coronavirus (Covid19) and distribution of information to the general public. Following the press conference, here are some of my concerns as a member of the public based on questions asked and responses given during the press conference. I will state facts given, highlight few of the questions asked, the responses given and then discuss my burning concerns.

Question asked: Will you at some point be testing family members of the person infected?

Answer given: Contacts will be tested only if they exhibit symptoms.

Question asked: Can asymptomatic persons pass on the virus?

Answer given: There have been some cases reported that asymptomatic persons have passed on the virus, but this is not typically the case.

Facts stated:

1. The person returned to St. Vincent on 7th March 2020 following trip to England for a meeting.

2. The person exhibited minimal symptoms on March 10th, specifically a cough and fever; no symptoms occurred prior to March 10th and no MASSIVE coughing exposing anyone.

3. All immediate contacts have been placed under strict quarantine for 14 days

4. Quarantine measures were put in place as soon as the ministry became aware of the situation.

5. Currently in St. Vincent, there is 1 (one) person in isolation and 3 (three) in quarantine

(Based on information provided by the World Health Organization, PAHO, Havard.edu, Sciencealert.)

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

A person can carry and transmit COVID-19 without showing symptoms, scientists confirm

ARIA BENDIX, BUSINESS INSIDER

24 FEBRUARY 2020

Chinese researchers have confirmed a case of asymptomatic transmission of the new coronavirus: A 20-year-old woman from Wuhan passed it to five of her family members but never got physically sick herself. The case study is the first concrete evidence that a person showing no symptoms can pass the coronavirus to others – a fact that could make curbing the outbreak even more challenging… She never become physically ill, even after her family members developed fevers. Two of them got severe pneumonia…

Onboard the aircraft

The seating location of passengers inside the aircraft should be duly noted/mapped in case a passenger begins to display symptoms, so they can be isolated, and to furthermore take note of those in the immediate vicinity (ex: those within same row, and two rows in front and two rows behind) for the needed follow up upon arrival.

Now my concern

Since the person returned from a meeting on Saturday, March 7 and only had symptoms on Tuesday, March 10, did the individual return to work (a place of employment) likely feeling fine on Monday, March9?

If yes, what level of interaction took place at the workplace and during commuting?

Since the possibility exist for an asymptomatic person to pass on the virus, yet St. Vincent has 1 person in isolation and 3 in quarantine, what of the persons who were in closest proximity during flight and interactions between Saturday and Monday. Why no quarantine is being implemented for any out of an abundance of precautions?

Is the Ministry of Health so convinced that the possibility of transmission to persons who were onboard the same flight does not exist because the individual was asymptomatic, so that the idea of quarantine for persons in closest range during flight does not deserve consideration?

How would the Ministry of Health know if anyone in whom the positive individual came into contact develop symptoms, since these others are not in quarantine and can easily brush symptoms aside if they are mild, while the possibility exist to infect yet others?

Is the approach of the Ministry of Health in this specific case focused on being reactive rather than proactive?

It was stated that the at risk population in St. Vincent are diabetics, hypertensive persons, the elderly and those with cardiovascular disease. Does this indicate that there is no real risk to person who are asthmatic which affect much of our youth population?

In the event of clusters of the virus, if severe symptoms occur requiring hospitalization, what capacity can currently by cared for in presently available facility in St. Vincent?

Since cost may be a key factor in being able to carry out test and presently test are done in Trinidad, would it not be prudent to use quarantine whether at home or elsewhere to ensure any possibility of risk is curtailed at the earliest moment?

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

3 replies on “COVID-19 in SVG: Some feedback on the press briefing”

  1. I wholeheartedly share the all the concerns raised by the editor in this particular article and it is imperative that the pertinent questions that were posed, be addressed in a timely manner by the Ministry of Health in another soon-to-be press briefing. Those questions possess burning issues that all Vincentians should really be concerned about as they may very well determine the fate of citizens of our country. I really do hope that the editor gets an opportunity to highlight these important questions and that they be addressed expeditiously.

  2. How are you going to test people for the virus? Do you have protocols in place in hospitals and ambulance services other health serviced and IC in the event of an outbreak? I hope so because testing in Trinidad kinda way off. I hope SVG community get the right information in any case.

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