Caribbean countries and territories report imported cases of coronavirus disease in March 2020. Maintain basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Saint Martin
  • Punta Cana
  • Saint Barthelemy

This alert began 03 Mar 2020 10:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): imported cases
  • Location(s): Caribbean (map)
  • Date: March 2020

Summary
Caribbean countries and territories have identified imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Individuals are being treated in isolation. As of March 3, the following countries and territories have identified confirmed COVID-19 cases:

  • Dominican Republic: Single imported case in La Altagracia Province. No local transmission.
  • Saint Martin: Single imported case reported. No local transmission.
  • Saint-Barthelemy: Two imported cases reported. No local transmission.



Background and Analysis
Health authorities expect imported cases of the disease to increase as surveillance continues globally. Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

The WHO declared the ongoing outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) Jan. 30. This indicates COVID-19 requires a coordinated international response, primarily due to the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems that would be ill-equipped to contain it.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base

ECDC Q+A

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