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.”