Due to the virulence of the virus, the incidence of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the New Corona Virus) could greatly overwhelm the coping capacity of our health system in Dominica if we are not successful in adequately slowing the disease or preventing its further spread. This is likely even if we had prepared as best as we could to treat people who develop severe symptoms of the disease. Given that likelihood, all appropriate international assistance that our country can access at this point must be welcomed and, in that regard, we welcome the assistance from Cuba and the People’s Republic of China.
As of yesterday (Thursday 25th March) according to the government of Dominica, there were 11 confirmed cases of COVID 19 and there were 29 persons under observation – persons who came into contact with one of the two initial cases. This can quickly become a nightmare for our country, as it did in China and as is happening in Italy and other countries. Since there is no treatment to cure or build human immunity to the virus at this point, the only weapon that the world has at its disposal is to slow the social spread of the virus in order to allow health systems to cope.
Reopening the Country - Part II
We have notice that some persons are beginning to let down their guard as it relates to preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are grateful that we have thus far contained the spread of COVID-19 in Dominica and though it is the right thing to ease official restriction as the country works towards a full removal of the curfew and lockdown, we must understand that we are not completely out of the woods yet given the likelihood of yet undetected spread of the virus, the continued risks posed by illegal entry into the country, and the return of our Dominican people (rightly so) who were stuck overseas including those who worked on cruise ships.
We noted in last week’s article that we can’t keep our country in a perpetual lockdown, neither is it healthy to live in fear. Consequently, we asked the following questions. Once the lockdown is removed and the border is reopened, can we expect to avoid all risk of the re-emergency of COVID-19? How do we manage those risks and what management tools should become routine over the next two years? So far, we discussed aspects related to random testing, capacity for treating persons who may be infected with COVID-19 and experience severe symptoms - should future rounds ensue, a need for sustained focus on proper hygiene, and maintaining appropriately adjusted physical distancing protocols.
Reopening the Country
We remain thankful as a people that the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in Dominica did not spread beyond the 16 confirmed cases, most of whom have recovered. But controlling the spread of the disease has come at a huge cost, not only in terms of economic activity, but also in terms of our physical social connections. We do miss going to church and hugging our friends. Staying away from our elder relatives has been hard. We were not able to fraternize with our friends over a drink or a game of dominoes – we miss that. Our physical social connectedness is a big part of what makes life enjoyable. It is not quite the same to stay connected via social media – though we are thankful for that.
Now that it appears that the recent spread of the virus has been halted in Dominica, efforts to reopen the country has started. Ultimately, we need to restore our physical socializing and to get back to fully engaging in economic activity. But there are still risks to be managed and in that regard the Dominica Freedom Party suggest that the reopening process be cautious and gradual given what we already know about the nature of the new corona virus, but also given that global knowledge of the virus is still evolving.
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