Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Roshan Parasram, has dismissed rumours that there is a suspected case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in T&T.
The rumour, which began circulating around 8 am today, was preceded by a voice note narrated by an alleged female nursing student, who claimed the patient was at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (POSGH).
The elderly Canadian man arrived at the Piarco International Airport on Monday night, via a direct flight from Canada.
Following the thermal screening process, a decision was made to have the man taken to the POSGH as he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
In a telephone interview this morning, Dr Parasram said the man, who was admitted via the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department, is being treated for an “Influenza-like illness”.
Meanwhile, he also confirmed tests are being done to definitively rule out the presence of COVID-19.
Samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing—for both influenza and COVID-19.
The Chief Medical Officer said while it will take between 24 and 48 hours before the results are received, the patient is being kept in isolation at the hospital.
He told Guardian Media that while Canada is not a high risk country, the patient did not have a travel history to any of the other affected countries nor exposure to anyone who could have been exposed.
On Monday, health officials in Washington state in the United States reported that four more people had died, bringing the state’s death toll, and the US’, to six. Georgia reported its first two cases on Monday, bringing the number of states with confirmed cases to 15.
The disease that emerged in central China has hit roughly 73 countries, with over 90,000 cases and 3,100 deaths.
The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China.
While the number of new cases recorded daily in that epicentre country has declined for weeks, the virus continues to spread fast in South Korea, Iran and Italy, prompting increased travel warnings and restrictions, globally.
Story by ANNA-LISA PAUL