Guyana unaware of Trinidad’s return of woman who travelled from coronavirus zone

Last Updated on Wednesday, 5 February 2020, 17:32 by Writer

Guyanese authorities on Wednesday said they were unaware that Trinidad and Tobago authorities returned a woman to Guyana because her flight originated from Hong Kong, one of the territories where people have been sickened by the coronavirus.

That twin-island nation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Paras­ram was quoted by the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspaper as saying that the woman, who travelled through Hong Kong, New York and Guyana before landing at the Piarco International Airport on Monday, was returned to Guyana, her last port of call, due to travel restrictions.

However, Guyana’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Gordon-Boyle said records from Guyana’s Port Health and Immigration do not substantiate the claim by the Trinidad senior health official.

News-Talk Radio Guyana/Demerara Waves Online News was informed by a senior immigration officer that staff at the “ports know of no such occurrence.”

The BBC reports that Hong Kong, which has 21 confirmed coronavirus cases and one fatality, suffered 300 deaths in the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03.

Paras­ram said the woman “did not have any symp­toms or any­thing that was sus­pi­cious but she was re­turned be­cause of the trav­el re­stric­tions from Chi­na.”

He told Guardian Me­dia: “I be­lieve she would have gone through oth­er ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing Hong Kong, New York and Guyana and then to Trinidad. Based on our trav­el re­stric­tions for per­sons leav­ing Chi­na with­in 14 days of de­par­ture, she was re­turned to the last port of call based on the Cab­i­net note and the im­mi­gra­tion laws.

Com­ment­ing on the in­ci­dent dur­ing an in­ter­view on CNC3’s The Morn­ing Brew, Chief Im­mi­gra­tion Of­fi­cer Char­maine Gand­hi-An­drews said of­fi­cials at this coun­try’s ports of en­try are alert­ed right away—via ad­vance pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion from air­lines—when pas­sen­gers orig­i­nate from Chi­na.

How­ev­er, some per­sons have more com­pli­cat­ed trav­el itin­er­aries and im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials are on­ly able to de­duce their ori­gin dur­ing the in­ter­view and by look­ing at all their trav­el doc­u­ments and pass­ports. “We had one such case yes­ter­day and that pas­sen­ger was re­turned to their port of en­try,” she said.

“They were screened by port health; there was no issue. How­ev­er, because of the trav­el ban, that per­son was re­turned to their port of embarkation.”