Coronavirus: travellers ‘under observation’

  • New cases: people wearing masks, walk in a subway station, in Hong Kong, yesterday (Photograph by Kin Cheung/AP)

    New cases: people wearing masks, walk in a subway station, in Hong Kong, yesterday (Photograph by Kin Cheung/AP)


A total of 14 people are being monitored as a precaution against the deadly coronavirus, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

The Government also advised people against trips to mainland China and added the virus strain, 2019-nCoV, to its list of communicable diseases.

The World Health Organisation’s situation report on the outbreak yesterday said that more than 31,480 cases were confirmed, with 270 of those across 24 countries outside of China.

Three people in the UK have been diagnosed with the virus. Only one death out of the 638 so far recorded has been outside China, in the Philippines.

The WHO declared the coronavirus a global health emergency last week and worldwide risk remained “high” yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the health ministry said: “Updating the notifiable diseases list is both a routine and a precautionary measure.

“There are no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Bermuda at this time, and no individuals meeting the criteria of ‘suspect case’.”

But she added: “There are several individuals under observation due to relevant travel history.”

The ministry spokewsoman said yesterday: “As of today, 14 individuals are being monitored, as per the Centres for Disease Control guidance and individual case management based on risk assessment.

“However, this number will change as those individuals reach the 14 day mark.”

She was speaking after the health ministry published an advisory for Bermuda residents on the government website.

The advisory said: “Travel to mainland China should be avoided at this time due to the risk of the novel coronavirus.

“Residents returning from mainland China will undergo a travel risk assessment and may be subject to movement restriction and health monitoring for up to 14 days.”

The notice said that the Government had also put a restriction on direct flights from China, which will affect private or corporate aircraft.

The notice told visitors: “If you have spent any time in mainland China in the past 14 days, travel to Bermuda is discouraged.

“Arriving visitors will undergo a travel risk assessment by a health officer.

“Depending on risk assessment, they may have their health monitored and movement on island restricted for up to 14 days.”

The notice added: “The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and health officers assisting in the prevention and control activities for novel coronavirus are utilising the guidance from the US Centres for Disease Control for conducting risk assessments on travellers.”

The ministry said: “As this is a rapidly evolving situation, this above information is subject to change at short notice based on updated risk assessments and recommendations.”

The Government’s Official Gazette online showed that the new coronavirus strain was added as a “communicable disease of the first category” to the Public Health Act 1949.

Other illnesses listed included measles, tuberculosis, smallpox and whooping cough.

Coronavirus was also added to the Quarantine (Maritime and Air) Regulations 2017 list of communicable diseases.

The new virus, a relative of the Sars and Mers viruses, which were blamed for killing hundreds of people in dozens of countries, causes fever, cough, shortness of breath and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

The Ministry of Health said last week, that the WHO had defined specific criteria that would mean someone could be classified as a “suspect case”.

They included “a relevant travel history risk or contact risk”.

Health updates can be found at: www.gov.bm/health-data-and-monitoring

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include the number of people under observation.

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Published Feb 8, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 8, 2020 at 3:35 pm)

Coronavirus: travellers ‘under observation’

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