The Holberton Hospital’s Margetson Ward site is set to be operational within two weeks.
Earlier this month, the government decided in a Cabinet meeting that the old Margetson Ward at the Holberton Hospital is to be repaired and retrofitted for both quarantine and isolation.
According to Health Minister Molwyn Joseph, an estimate of EC $500,000 is being put towards the refurbishment of the facility as government steps up its efforts to keep the coronavirus out of the country.
The coronavirus epidemic topped two benchmarks on Tuesday, according to new numbers released by Chinese officials. With the 136 new deaths and 1,749 new cases reported, the global death toll of the virus climbed above 2,000, and the total number of confirmed cases rose to more than 75,000
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas told a press conference there were still no confirmed cases in the Caribbean, and detailed an arsenal of measures to keep the twin island nation virus-free.
Extreme caution is exercised at all ports of entry, encompassing everything from aircraft to cruise ships and cargo vessels. A “very detailed travel history” is being sought from all international travellers, she said.
Protective gear, including gowns and goggles, is also on the ground in case of an outbreak.
The public have a key role to play too. “Regular hand washing, and good cough and sneeze etiquette” is vital, the CMO said.
Repurposing the Margetson Ward on the Queen Elizabeth Highway-based compound is part of wider plans to beef up the country’s response to viruses.
According to epidemiologist Dr Anju Smith, a total of 14 people have been quarantined in Antigua: three remain in quarantine, five have since been repatriated and six have completed the quarantine period showing no signs of the virus.