Coronavirus (Covid-19): St Helena Preparedness Update

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • Precautions
  • Travel advice
  • Keeping up-to-date

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. The Coronavirus COVID-19 which has been identified in various countries around the world is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans or detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through contact with an infected person, normally generated through coughs or sneezes or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

Infection with COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms similar to other flu-like viruses, for example a runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

The Health Directorate is continuing to monitor information from and work closely with Public Health England (PHE) and the World Health Organization on the spread of COVID-19.  

The test for COVID-19 is not yet available on St Helena but may be available in three months time.  However, the Hospital can now test for flu and therefore persons arriving on Island with flu-like symptoms can easily be swabbed to test and confirm whether or not they have the flu.

Precautions

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use antibacterial hand gel if your hands are not visibly dirty
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with antibacterial hand gel or soap and water
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer a virus from the surface to yourself
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Travel Advice

The Health Directorate advises anyone intending to travel to a country or an area of a country where COVID-19 has been identified, to take precautions and to be aware that when returning to St Helena they will be screened accordingly.

Anyone arriving to the Island having come from China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau in the last 14 days with cough, fever, or shortness of breath may be required to be isolated. Anyone arriving from these countries who within 14 days develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath should immediately:

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • Call the Health Directorate to inform them of your symptoms and recent travel to the country

Anyone arriving to the Island who has been to Wuhan or Hubei, China, in the last 14 days will be isolated even if they have no symptoms.

All passengers arriving at St Helena (via air and sea) are asked to complete a questionnaire, this provides an opportunity to screen those passengers who may have recently travelled to high risk areas

At this time, based on intelligence and information, St Helena is not restricting Chinese nationals from travelling to the Island.  The threat posed by ALLChinese nationals is low. A system has been put in place to gather more information to allow an accurate assessment of threat, harm and risk to be made. The threat assessment is constantly reviewed and, if the threat assessment increases for a specific group, then other options to manage or mitigate the risk will be used.

The public is reassured that if the threat changes, mitigating action will be taken to protect the public.

Keeping up-to-date

The public will be kept abreast of the situation and the preventative measures put in place through a weekly news release and regular radio interviews.

A ‘live’ Question and Answer page is available on the SHG website at the following link: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/coronavirus-covid-19-live-qa/. You are encouraged to visit this webpage as a first stop for any questions you have on COVID-19 and St Helena.

Anyone with concerns on a particular issue relating to COVID-19 that is not already covered in the Q&A should contact: marco.yon@helanta.co.sh.

#StHelena #Coronavirus #Covid-19 #AltogetherHealthier

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SHG
26 February 2020 

St Helena Government Press Office

Telephone: 22470
Email: liam.yon@sainthelena.gov.sh