Since the announcement of the outbreak of 2019 n-CoV in China, PAHO has worked very closely with the Ministry of Health in providing technical support for the preparedness and response for managing such an event in Suriname. Support has been provided with guidance documents to strengthen surveillance for respiratory illnesses, revision of Standard Operating procedures and enhancing infection prevention and control in hospitals.
During the period 4 – 6 of February 2020, the PAHO Suriname Office received a mission from the PAHO Health Emergency Team in the Regional Office in Washington, DC. The team provided the Central Laboratory of the BOG with reagents for molecular testing (PCR) for the 2019-nCoV that included primers, probes, and positive controls and facilitated the training of laboratory technologists in conducting the screening and confirmatory tests for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. With this provision of reagents and training, as of February 5, 2019, in the context of the Emergency Response to the 2019-nCoV in the Region of the Americas, Suriname became the first CARICOM country and the third in the Region of the Americas with the capacity for molecular diagnosis of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
In preparing to respond to events with potential public health impact, Suriname’s Ministry of Health public health officers and surveillance staff from Nickerie and Paramaribo sentinel hospitals for severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) surveillance, were also trained in outbreak response to and investigation of respiratory events, including the 2019-nCoV, also conducted by the PAHO PHE mission team. This will further improve their ability to rapidly identify, investigate, and respond to outbreaks of respiratory infections
In addition, as part of respiratory virus virologic surveillance, the BOG Central Laboratory, based on the strong laboratory response capacity including its high performance of annual 100% score in the WHO External Quality Assessment Program (EQAP) for influenza molecular diagnostics has been assessed with the WHO official tools to advance the process of the National Influenza Center (NIC) to become an officially recognized laboratory within the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.
Suriname’s rapid response plan was also reviewed, in a continued effort to improve the ability to rapidly and effectively respond to disease outbreaks.
Although no case of 2019-nCov has been confirmed in Suriname to date, these activities supported by PAHO have contributed significantly to the Ministry of Health’s preparedness activities for this Public Health Emergency of International Concern.