Coronavirus (Covid-19) – St Helena Preparedness Update

  • Preventative measures in place on St Helena
  • Staying Safe
  • Keeping up-to-date

St Helena residents are reassured that 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 the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The St Helena Resilience Forum is meeting weekly to ensure a coordinated approach to preparation and response to any threat to the Island from Covid-19.

Currently, a Command Structure is being put in place to ensure that key parties are ready to respond in the event Covid-19 reaches St Helena.

While the threat to the Island is currently low, the threat is being taken seriously by all agencies involved and preventative measures are in place and the situation continuously monitored.

Preventative measures in place on St Helena

  • All passengers arriving at St Helena (via air and sea) are asked to complete a questionnaire (see appended), this provides an opportunity to screen those passengers who may have recently travelled to high risk areas
  • If there is cause to suspect that a passenger arriving by air needs to be interviewed then the Health Directorate will ensure they leave the plane separately and be interviewed in a designated room at the Airport. Those in close contact with the suspected passenger will also be identified and segregated until the interview is concluded and the risk assessed. Passengers are encouraged to contact the Health Directorate if they feel unwell en-route or during their stay
  • Temperature checks are being carried out at St Helena Airport with an automatic temperature reader
  • Liaising with the Emergency Planning Department, Port Control is in the process of identifying a secure area within the Wharf facility to accommodate any potential health risk posed by a visiting crew member/passenger. In the event that an individual has been identified as a health threat during the screening process, advice will be sought from the senior medical team before permission is granted for them to come ashore
  • Staff at the General Hospital are using appropriate personal protective equipment when dealing with people who present with respiratory symptoms and with a history of recent travel in affected places
  • All frontline staff at both air and sea borders are receiving regular briefings and are appropriately primed and protected
  • An area in Bradleys Camp has been identified as isolation accommodation and a temporary Hospital. The camp is being equipped to provide treatment if needed, and the Health Directorate is in close contact with Public Health England should additional resources need to be requested.

Staying Safe

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.

Everyone should adhere to hand washing (including using anti-bacterial hand gel) and coughing etiquette when having any viral illness. An information campaign is launching this week and various posters and leaflets will be made available at key places.

Members of the public concerned with the Covid-19 virus affecting all passengers on an aircraft, should note that due to cabin air filtration systems equipped with high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) the risk of contracting a disease from someone on board a plane is lower than in other confined areas such as on a bus.

HEPA have similar performance to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms and industrial clean rooms. These filters are very effective at trapping microscopic particles as small as bacteria and viruses (a paper providing further information is attached to this press release).

Keeping up-to-date

There are no cases of Covid-19 reported in South Africa at this time and there have been no passengers identified as suspected cases. The Health Directorate will inform the public of any confirmed case identified.

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 & Answer document is being developed to answer any questions the public has on Covid-19 and the measures in place. This document will be made available on the SHG website.

Anyone with concerns on a particular issue relating to Covid-19 should contact: marco.yon@helanta.co.sh or refer to the Q&A document which will be continuously updated. 

Health Directorate Screening Questionnaire

IATA Briefing Paper – Cabin Air Quality

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https://www.facebook.com/StHelenaGovt/

SHG

18 February 2020

St Helena Government Press Office

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