There are no suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus also called the Covid-19 virus in T&T at this time.
This, from Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram who yesterday dismissed rumours that approximately four crew members on board a ship docked off Anchorage, Port-of-Spain were reportedly prevented from coming ashore – as they were believed to have contacted the virus after they began exhibiting symptoms including fever and diarrhoea.
He revealed the commercial container vessel – the Sonderborg – has been anchored off-shore for the past two months as it is undergoing repairs.
Guardian Media confirmed the vessel had been placed on dry-dock at the Caribbean Dockyard from December 27 to January 18, following which it remained anchored off the western peninsula as additional works were required.
During a telephone interview, Parasram reported the international crew, “Had been in the country for quite a while.”
However, he admitted, “Recently, crew members would have been added to the fleet but there has been no history of travel to China or to any of the affected countries, by the new members.”
He added, “Over the last day or two, four members would have shown symptoms suggestive of a gastroenteritis-like illness including diarrhoea and fever.”
Parasram said the County Medical Officer, Health, for the St. George West district and the Port Health Officer were both fully aware of the situation and had been liaising with the captain of the vessel.
He said, “This is to ensure the well-being of the crew members is given high priority.”
Parasram extended reassurances this is, “A routine standard operating procedure and does not involve coronavirus at this point. It seems like another illness relating to gastroenteritis.”
He revealed that one of the affected crew members’ symptoms had become more severe yesterday, “I asked the medical officers to take the necessary steps to ensure he is investigated fully.”
He explained the first step was to make sure the patient is well, and that based on the officers’ assessment – only then would a decision be taken to determine if he needed further medical care.
“If he needs to come to shore, based on the assessment by the medical officer, he will be brought by ambulance and once he is investigated and treated to become stable, he will be sent back to the ship. He will not be allowed to traverse any part of the country while he is ill. All infectious prevention control will be followed and once he is well enough, he will go back on to the ship.”
Up to 2.30 pm yesterday, Parasram was unable to say if this crew member had in fact been taken to hospital for treatment.
Parasram said mild gastroenteritis illnesses such as these were common aboard vessels like this.
When Guardian Media contacted the local shipping agent, Perez y Cia (Trinidad) Ltd, an official declined to comment.