Dr Aneesha Gopaul

battle gear: Primary care physician Dr Aneesha Gopaul displays safety and protective gear to be used by doctors in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 or any other dangerous disease at the Ministry of Health’s offices in Port of Spain on Wednesday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

Jamaica is confirming its first case of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

It’s an imported case, said Jamaica’s health authorities during a press conference in Kingston, Jamaica this afternoon.

The patient, a female who holds dual citizenship and travelled from the United Kingdom, returning to Jamaica on March 4, was screened, as all passengers were, on arrival at the airport.

However, the UK was not on the list of countries considered high risk.

The person, who came to Jamaica to attend a funeral, did not have symptoms until days later, went to see their doctor, which led to the diagnosis, test and confirmation.

Jamaicans were told that there were no guarantees regarding the spread of the virus and the only way to prevent an imported case was to shut down the island to the rest of the world. "But we can't do that," said Jamaica's Health Minister Christopher Tufton. "We can't shut Jamaicans out of Jamaica."

As part of the investigation into the COVID-19 patient, reporters were told that there would be a probe into the movements and home situation of the person.

Investigators would determine what events the person had attended, and if the risk was confined to a home, a community or several communities.

Based on that finding, people would be identified and quarantined.

The COVID-19 person, described as stable with mild symptoms, was identified as being located on the border of St Thomas and St Andrew.

The virus was not a death sentence, citizens were told, and the vast majority of Jamaicans who may become infected, will recover.

People are being urged not to panic, and not to discriminate against those affected with the virus.

Jamaicans are being urged against non essential travel.

The COVID-19 patient is in isolation at the University Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaicans were also advised not to shun the hospital since it was safe.

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