Ministry of Health, Turks and Caicos Islands reports its first case of COVID-19
The Ministry of Health confirms its first case of COVID-19; a sample had been sent to the National Reference Laboratory in Bahamas for testing, and subsequently came back positive today Monday 23rd March 2020. This individual had no recent history of travel and began displaying flu-like symptoms on 12th March 2020. The individual was placed under home quarantine since 20th March 2020.
This situation continues to be aggressively investigated by the Ministry’s Public Health team with assistance from regional and international partners in order to identify all information regarding the person’s possible contacts, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Interviews have been conducted with the patient to identify close contacts, such as family members, friends and business associates. We will continue to keep the public updated on this situation as it progresses.
This announcement will create some public concern, and we ask the public to be patient as the Ministry of Health investigates; as such more details will be forthcoming in further updates. The Ministry would like to reassure everyone that we are taking all necessary precautions and following established Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols in relation to any and all suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Having already proclaimed Emergency Powers, the first Overseas Territory to do so, with schools closed and incoming flights suspended from Tuesday, Cabinet will meet tomorrow to determine whether further measures, available to them, will be implemented. For the moment TCI is ahead of the position many other countries have found themselves in. We intend to stay that way.
We continue to implement enhanced measures in the fight against the COVID-19 Coronavirus, such as enhanced surveillance at all ports of entry; activated our preparedness and response plan; refresher training for health care providers in response protocols for IPC and continuous dissemination of information to the public, international travelers and work with public health partners in the region and overseas.
We wish to remind the general public that practicing simple everyday hygiene is the best way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Persons are reminded to:
- Frequently clean hands using soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty;
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- Persons experiencing cough and fever should remain at home;
- Persons should practice social distancing-keeping 3-6 feet from one another. This step helps to reduce social interaction between people which can prevent the spread of disease.
- If you have fever, cough and experience difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately by contacting our hotlines and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
- DO NOT come to health care settings without first notifying your health care provider or calling the hotline numbers if you are experiencing cough, fever and shortness of breath.
- Be mindful of the most vulnerable in the community. These persons include: the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, respiratory illness, diabetes and cancer. We all have a duty to protect them through practicing social distancing and proper hygiene.