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US Embassy worker ‘recovering well’ after COVID-19 diagnosis

The US Embassy in Kingston says an employee who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is “in good spirits and recovering well”.

The employee, a Jamaican who had recently travelled to the United Kingdom, tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, becoming Jamaica’s second confirmed case of the fast spreading disease.

“Today, the employee is in good spirits and recovering well. There have been no reports of local transmission via contact to any US Embassy employee,” US Ambassador Donald Tapia said in a news release Monday.

“In addition to addressing the embassy case of COVID-19, the US mission in Kingston continues its collaborative efforts with the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) to support its nation-wide efforts to respond to the pandemic,” Tapia added.

According to the release, the US Embassy received information last Tuesday, March 10, that an employee was in isolation on suspicion of COVID-19. The embassy said, out of an abundance of caution it took mitigation steps including to instruct the the staff of the entire consular section where the individual works, and anyone who came in close contact with them, to remain at home and notify the embassy and the Ministry of Health & Wellness immediately if they developed symptoms related to COVID-19.

The embassy added that, as a preventive measure, within 24 hours of the incident, it flew in from Washington, DC a US Department of State decontamination team that sanitised the affected areas of the embassy.

According to the embassy, a total of 14 of its employees remain at home for the 14-day quarantine which ends on March 24 and none has developed symptoms as of today.

The embassy further added that, in addition to taking care of its mission staff community, it is also working hard to provide support to the Jamaican government.

Among the initiatives, the embassy said, is an offer of support to the Ministry of Health through embassy staff physicians and other public health professionals who can provide assistance in the areas of contact tracing, data management and clinical care if needed. The embassy said it is also in the process of acquiring resources from US government agencies for support in the areas of medical equipment, PPE, and testing kits, to supplement the government’s efforts.

Tapia stated, “We want to congratulate the GoJ and the Health and Wellness Ministry for its timely reporting of COVID-19 cases and aggressive containment strategy. The ministry has shown that one of the best defenses is appropriate public sensitisation on preventative methods and the importance of early case recognition.”