Guyana begins screening of passengers for new coronavirus

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The Cheddi Jagan Airport and the Eugene F. Correia Airport will Friday night begin screening arriving passengers for the new coronavirus which has killed 26 people in China and infected more than 800.

In fact, all airports and seaports are on high alert. A team from the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Organisation (PAHO) discussed the plan of action with senior port health officials and the country’s key medical agencies.

Immigration officers will screen passengers who arrive from the affected provinces in China and countries in Asia where the virus has been detected.

Most of the cases and all of the deaths have been in China, but it has also been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, the United States and France.

Passengers arriving from Asian countries will be escorted to the Port Health officer on duty to screen them for symptoms of the virus.

Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been elderly, many with pre-existing conditions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated.

Immigration officers will be interested in the passengers’ travel history, among other information. If they show no symptoms, they will be allowed to enter the country.

If the passenger exhibits the symptoms, he/she will be screened more and oral pharyngeal samples will be taken for testing; the passenger will taken to the Guyana Public Hospital Corporation for further testing and isolation; local health officials will be informed.

Most cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Wuhan, China where the virus is believed to have originated in a market that traded illegally in wildlife, Reuters reported.

It said preliminary research suggested it crossed to humans from snakes.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by a novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment based on the patient’s clinical condition. Moreover, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

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