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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. March 13, 2020: The number of COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean shot up to 27 Thursday with the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines all reporting new cases.

The news comes as the CARICOM region now also has its first death from the new coronavirus – a woman in her 50s who travelled to Guyana from New York.

French Guiana now leads the region with 6 confirmed cases as of last night while the Dominican Republicā€™s tally remains at 5.

Cuba reported three new cases while Martinique now has four cases in isolation at the CHU Martinique Hospital, La Meynard, in a special and sheltered quarantine unit.

Saint Martin has two as does Jamaica while St. Barths, Guyana, the Cayman Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago has one each.

The Public Health Department of the Cayman Islands confirmed its first case last night – a visitor who was transferred from a cruise ship for a critical cardiac issue.

Medical Health Officer, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said the patient was doing well but subsequently developed breathing difficulties, was isolated and a test taken has confirmed is suffering with the novel coronavirus.ā€
ā€œThe patient has been isolated and is receiving medical support having tested positive for the COVID-19,ā€ Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Clinical Director of Health City Cayman Islands confirmed.

The Caribbean has gone from being coronavirus free to over a dozen cases in just over a week.

The uptick could have serious consequences for the regionā€™s economy and its tourism sector, considered the bread and butter for most countries in the Caribbean and CARICOM region.

The news comes The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) on Thursday said it continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and to engage member countries, as well as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and  tourism partners, to inform travel-related health measures that are proportionate to the public health threat and based on local risk assessment.

ā€œThe CTO would like to emphasize that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not called for any travel and trade restrictions as a result of the coronavirus. As a matter of fact, the WHO continues to advise against such restrictions. Local populations and visitors alike are assured that the Caribbean remains open for business,ā€ the statement added.

Several Caribbean countries have, however, announced restrictions on travel from several countries that have been severely impacted from the virus. Passengers and airline crew who have been in China (Peopleā€™s Republic), Hong Kong (SAR China), Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Macao (SAR China) or Singapore in the past 21 days, are not allowed to transit or enter Sint Maarten, St. Lucia, Aruba, the Bahamas, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Maarten and Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Jamaicaā€™s Tourism Ministry announced last night it is postponing several public events this month including: the Tourism Linkages Speed Networking event set for March 12 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre and the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival scheduled for March 21 in Newcastle, St. Andrew, Jamaica.

Globally there are 134,469 cases of the virus with 4,970 deaths reported. Some 68,900 people have so far recovered from the virus.

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