MIAMI — As the U.S. continues to enforce strict travel restrictions on travelers from China over the coronavirus outbreak, an increasing number of Caribbean nations are also doing the same, while taking steps to screen arriving passengers at their ports of entry.
In recent days, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago have all announced China-related travel bans, even though there are no direct commercial flights between mainland China and their nations.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola, have not made any official announcements about travel restrictions, but over the weekend both countries prevented Chinese visitors on a private jet from getting off the plane.
Authorities in St. Lucia also prevented Miami-based Carnival Corporation’s AIDA cruise ship AIDAPerla from docking at its port of Castries after it was reported that 14 passengers were being treated for upper respiratory issues.
The ship’s 4,384 passengers were also denied the right to dock in St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, but were later received with no problem by authorities in Sint Maarten and Martinique, AIDA Cruises said in a prepared statement.
There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Caribbean or Latin America, and all of the suspicious cases have been ruled out, said Marcos Espinal, director of the department of communicable diseases and environmental determinants of health with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The coronavirus has killed at least 774 people so far worldwide, mostly in mainland China.
Meanwhile, as the deadly coronavirus spreads across China and ripples through other parts of the world, scientists are trying to pinpoint how humans first got exposed, according to Business Insider.
So far, they know the virus is zoonotic, meaning it jumps from animals to people. And genetic research has all but confirmed that it originated in bats. But scientists believe that another animal most likely served as the intermediary between bats and humans.
That animal could be the pangolin, a scaly, nocturnal mammal with a tongue longer than its body.
A group of researchers from South China Agricultural University found that samples from coronavirus patients were 99 percent identical to samples of the virus taken from wild pangolins, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency. Their research hasn’t been published or confirmed by other experts, but scientists say the results make sense, given what we know about the animals.
Pangolins are often poached for their keratin scales, which are used as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Their meat is also considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam.
If bats drop feces or saliva onto food that’s consumed by a pangolin, the animal can become a carrier of the coronavirus. Humans can then be exposed by consuming pangolins, allowing the virus to then be transmitted from person to person.
Former U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp made a trade mission to China in 2016 and said upon returning said that people in the territory should kowtow to the Chinese tourist’s idiosyncratic demands, including luxury robes, slippers and in-room noodle service.
— MIAMI HERALD