Dominica's COVID-19 response moves to level 3 | 7 confirmed cases

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Address to the Nation – 24th March, 2020

Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit has announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in his country has risen to 7. He made the revelation at an address to the nation on Tuesday night. “Earlier today he said,” I was informed by the Minister of Health, that health authorities have confirmed 5 additional positive testings associated with one of the two cases already under observation.” Skerrit mentioned that since Sunday, Dominica has seen its second imported case of CVID-19 and said that the five additional cases contracted the virus from one or the other cases who are under observation. “This means,” he said, “that at least 5 persons are known to have contracted the virus as a consequence of coming into contact in one way or another with one of the persons who has tested positive and who would have brought the virus from abroad.”

Meanwhile, Skerrit admonished citizens to be wary of on-island transmission and warned that wider transmission could have occurred. “Fellow citizens, on island-transmission is very serious and very dangerous,” he said adding, ” it triggers many scenarios and possibilities. Our contact tracing continues and there is a possibility that wider transmission could have occurred.” He said that health authorities, however, have ‘no way of knowing’ whether or not this is the case until persons have been tested and the result known.

Level 3 response

Prime Minister Skerrit explained that the occurrence of an on-island transmission of the virus has trigged an up-grade in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The establish procedure on confirmation of on-island spread is for an increasing of the level of awareness and activity,” he said adding, “I told you on Sunday, the imported positive testing took us to level 2. Confirmed cases of on-island testing now takes us to level 3. This is unfortunate but it is not hopeless, ” he said.

Border controls

Prime Minister Dr Skerrit announced that from Thursday, March 26, 2020 all commercial air and sea access to non-Dominicans will be suspended in the Commonwealth of Dominica. And to all travellers including Dominican citizens and residents from Saturday, March 28, 2020. ” This order relates to all commercial aircraft as well as non-essential service-oriented pleasure craft.” he said, adding, ” the same order of March 28, applies to ships, boats and yachts not visiting Dominica for the expressed purpose of bringing vitally in needed cargo and other supplies to this country. All seas and air arrivals must henceforth granted permission to enter by the office of the Chief Medical Officer,” he said.

Skerrit said that this order will remain in place until further notice. In addition, He also advised that Dominicans living overseas wishing to return home, as well as other travellers wishing to leave the island before the March 28th deadline should ‘act now’ to schedule your visit accordingly.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING? Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19. Other examples of social distancing that allow you to avoid larger crowds or crowded spaces are: Working from home instead of at the office Closing schools or switching to online classes Interacting via electronic devices Cancelling/postponing conferences and meetings COMMONWEALTH OF DOMINICA'

Social distancing

Moreover, Prime Minister Skerrit noted that a level 3 response triggers a call for social distancing measures in addition to increased good hygiene behaviour. “The coronavirus is contagious, highly contagious. It is spread largely through person-to-person contact , as well as droplets left on surfaces and clothing.” he said adding, ” we need to minimised the spread in Dominica. Accordingly, I am today advising that with immediate effect, all non-essential gatherings in Dominica must be contained to no more than 10 individuals.” The Prime Minister went on to say that essential gatherings exempt from this regulation includes;

  • Workplaces
  • Supermarkets
  • Public transportation
  • Bus stations
  • Health institutions
  • Any other permitted by the Chief Medical Officer

While prohibited non-essential gatherings includes:

  • Restaurants
  • Churches
  • Sporting and recreational facilities
  • Gyms
  • Cinemas
  • Night clubs
  • Bars
  • (Most) government Offices, including the financial Centre and the ministries of Government

Prime Minister Skerrit issued a challenge to the private sector to devise creative ways and means to work within the parameters of the regulations that would not place their customers, and their staff at risk of contracting the virus. He said, ” I wish to take this opportunity to appeal to Dominica entrepreneurs to be innovative and creative in their response to these impositions,” he said.

Dominica recorded its first confirmed case on Sunday.