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Dominica to be first Caribbean country able to test for Coronavirus according to health minister



Health minister Dr. Irving McIntyre

Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre has said “Dominica will be the only Caribbean country able to test for Coronavirus” after receiving training from the United States Centre for Disease Control.

At the tenth parliament held on Monday, he said the training will begin on Thursday and Friday. He pointed out that Barbados is making efforts towards acquiring the ability to do their own tests but  he claims Dominica will be the only one after receiving the training this week.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean Trinidad had received testing kits as early as 7th February 2020, according to their health minister Ter­rence Deyals­ingh.

Additionally, in a statement released by the Health Ministry of Trinidad, “CARPHA Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML) is accepting specimens for diagnostic testing by molecular method. The turnaround time is 24-48 hours from receipt of the specimen at CMML.”

“On Friday…the Pan American health organization gave Dominica up to 80% preparedness, this is much higher than any other OECS countries,” he noted.

Recently, McIntyre said at a press conference that according to World Health Organization (WHO) calculations, the risk of the virus is at medium to low for the Caribbean region.

He made mention of the ongoing training of providing updated and standard case definitions to all relevant stakeholders, stating that Dominica has things under control.

“Also, in place is the development and dissemination of reporting tools to healthcare providers during the preparation phase, including the development of a database,” he noted.

In terms of case management which forms part of the Health Ministry’s plan, Dr. McIntyre said that there will be retraining of healthcare staff on severe acute respiratory illness, case management.

Dr. McIntyre explained that the goal of risk communication is to ensure a timely and efficient flow of accurate and consistent information during all phases of emergency or risk.

Over a thousand persons have died from this virus and more than forty thousand cases have been confirmed to date.

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COVID-19: Regional Round Up/March 30, 2020





NEW HEALTH REGULATIONS  ( From 27 March, for two weeks, Anguillans are confined to their homes except for essential visits to a doctor, pharmacy, grocery store, wholesale food and drink suppliers, restaurant, banks or money services, or a gas station; or for outdoor exercise for periods not exceeding an hour and a half per day in daylight hours. Key workers are exempt. Public gatherings have also been banned for more than five people or for 12 persons attending a wedding or a funeral. Two active cases have been confirmed.



ARUBA AND THE WORLD FACING COVID-19 ( Aruba has tested over 560 people with 49 positive cases and, so far, no fatalities. The island is under partial lockdown. People are asked to go out only for essential shopping items or visits to the doctor, and to be in groups of no more than three people. A curfew is in place from 9pm to 6am.



PASTOR TO BE CHARGED FOR VIOLATING SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES  ( Following the announcement of a state of emergency declared on Friday 27 March, a Jamaican pastor was charged with holding a service at Bolans New Testament Church of God with more than 25 people, thus violating social distancing rules; a man in the congregation was also charged with the battery of a police officer when police were sent to the church to disperse the congregation. Churchgoers remonstrated with police calling their action “satanic and ungodly”. There are seven active cases.



PM’S DECISION TO CLOSE BORDERS WAS ESSENTIAL ( Prime Minister Dr Hubert Innis said that although it was ‘unfortunate’ Bahamians had been stranded abroad, it had been essential to close the borders to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 virus. The government is also seeking to extend a night-time curfew, first made two weeks ago. The total number of active cases stands at 13.



ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES TO CLOSE DURING 14-DAY CURFEW ( A curfew commenced on Saturday 28 March from 8pm to 6am, with Bajans being urged to stop panic-buying. Supermarkets, groceries, corner shops and bakeries will all remain open outside of curfew hours. Barbados has reported 33 active cases.


( Help from the UK government for those made unemployed as a result of Covid-19 has been requested. There are two active cases.



FOOD SHORTAGES, A DECREPIT ECONOMY, AND NOW THE CORONAVIRUS: HARDER TIMES AHEAD FOR CUBA ( The government closed hotels, schools, and halted local transportation services between provinces to slow the spread of the virus. Large gatherings have been prohibited, and people have been told to stay at home as much as possible. Social distancing measures look very different in countries such as Cuba, with little Internet service in homes. Cuba has reported 162 active cases.



CURACAO IMMEDIATELY ON LOCKDOWN ( On Sunday 29 March, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath locked down the island for two weeks. People are only allowed to go outside in case of a medical need or to visit pharmacies, petrol stations, supermarkets, mini markets, bakeries and hardware stores. These shops can remain open until 7 pm. Curacao has reported eight active cases.



WORLD BANK $150 MILLION TO MEET DOMINICANS’ NEEDS IN CRISIS ( The Dominican Government will use US$150 million previously allocated for reconstruction and development to meet the needs of the Dominican population affected by coronavirus. The Dominican Republic is under a state of emergency and has reported 855 active cases.



POSTPONEMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION ( As of Monday 30 March 2020, all motor vehicle inspection is suspended until further notice along with theoretical and practical driving tests. Grenada is under a limited state of emergency with citizens only allowed out between 5am and 7pm for essentials. The tri-island state has reported nine active cases.



ONE NEW DEATH ( One new death, a 67-year-old man with underlying health problems, was announced on Monday 30 March, bringing the total of deaths to five. Free bottles of alcohol-based solutions were due to be delivered Monday to help safeguard health and safety personnel ( There are 85 active cases.



PRISONERS TO BE RELEASED UNDER STATE OF EMERGENCY ( Minister of Justice, Lucmane Delille, instructed the Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday to launch legal procedures for the release of detainees accused of minor crimes such as shoplifting and brawls. Haiti is under a state of emergency, its borders are closed, and a curfew from 8pm to 5am has been imposed. So far, this country of 11 million has reported 14 active cases.


DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THE NATION’S INTEREST’ — PNP ( The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has called for a declaration of a State of National Emergency to counter the COVID-19 virus. Currently, the government is managing the crisis under the Disaster Risk Management Act. There are 33 active cases.



4.2 QUAKE HITS SOUTHERN PUERTO RICO AMID CORONAVIRUS CURFEW ( On Monday 30 March, a magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Puerto Rico at a depth of 5km near the southwest coastal town of Guanica and was felt across the U.S. territory. The quake hit during a monthlong curfew aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and came three months after a series of strong quakes near southwest Puerto Rico killed one person and damaged hundreds of homes. Puerto Rico has recorded 168 active cases of Covid-19.


WE ARE IN AN UNPRECEDENTED TIME’ ( Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris declared a 14-day state of emergency on 29 March. Under these powers regulations provide for ‘every person to remain confined to their place of residence…except in stipulated circumstances for example essential travel to the doctor, grocery store, bank, credit union, money services, business, pharmacy or to refuel vehicles.’ A  team of 30 nurses and four doctors from Cuba has arrived on St Kitts. St Kitts-Nevis now has seven active cases.



PRIME MINISTER EXTENDS QUARANTINE, INCREASES CURFEW ( Responding to a lack of adherence to previous rules, PM Chastanet announced that the curfew would be extended and be in effect from 8pm to 5pm, the quarantine period that was due to end on 5 April will be extended to 14 April, and all of the country’s liquor licenses are henceforth suspended so anyone operating a restaurant other than a drive through or takeout will be in breach of the law. St. Lucia has reported eight  active cases.



EDITORIAL: HOW LIFE CONTINUES ( An editorial in the local online newspaper comments that it is ‘amazing how disciplined almost all residents of our island are…. It is hoped that the rapidly implemented and strict regulations on both sides [French and Dutch] of the island worked as hoped for and the spread of the virus has been blocked.’ St Martin has 12 cases and Sint Maarten has six.



ST VINCENT & THE GRENADINES NOW CORONAVIRUS FREE ( Following the full recovery of its only recorded victim, Minister of Health Luke Browne says that there are no longer any confirmed active cases of Covid-19 in SVG.


TRINIDAD RECORDS THIRD DEATH; PM SAYS COUNTRY IS AT WAR ( A third death from the Covid-19 virus was announced yesterday (Monday). Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that the country was at “war” and that “every one has to be a soldier because the enemy could come from any one of us, so therefore we should be extra careful’. There are 78 active cases on the twin island state.



TCI UNDER COMPLETE LOCKDOWN FROM SATURDAY ( government declared a three-week lockdown from Saturday 28 March while its borders are closed to all non-essential travel. The Overseas British Territory has five cases.


Click here for a coronavirus live update from around the world.

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Positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Dominica increase to 12




Dominica has reported another confirmed case of COVID-19.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases on the island now stands at 12.

National Epidemiologist, Dr Shalludin Ahmed made the announcement at a press briefing which ended a short while ago.


More to come.

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Dominica employs national contact tracing and sampling committee in its fight against COVID-19




As part of the strategy to respond to Covid-19 outbreak in Dominica, a national contact tracing and sampling committee has been established in the Primary Healthcare Services Division of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment.

“The Committee is being spearheaded by myself, the Director and comprises of the Permanent Secretary of Tourism, the Chief Dental Officer, Coordinator for National HIV/AIDS Response Unit and our two senior community health nurses,” Director for Primary Healthcare Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Laura Esprit said at a news conference recently. “There is one team leader assigned per region who is reporting directly to the Director of Primary Healthcare Services.”

Dr. Esprit said each district has a smaller team comprising the District Medical Officer, the Senior Community Health Nurse, a Community Health Nurse, other nurses and a driver.

“These persons are then responsible for contact tracing, follow-up and surveillance,” she explained.

She said the committee has been sub-divided into two teams: an administrative leg and a mobile sampling field team.

The administrative team is responsible for outgoing patient investigation and care and the mobile sampling field team provides support to “surge capacity.”

“This means that this team is deployed to the relevant district or communities whenever it becomes necessary,” Dr. Esprit indicated. “This enables prompt sampling of all suspects over a shorter period of time.”

She added, “This team is also critical in identifying further contacts.”

The mobile sampling field team comprises a medical doctor, a family nurse practitioner and a registered nurse trained in infection control who will be responsible for staff welfare.

She noted that for ease of administration Primary Healthcare Services has always been subdivided into two administrative regions.

Region 1  comprises the districts of Roseau, Grandbay and St Joseph, while Region includes Portsmouth, Marigot, Castle Bruce and Laplaine.

Dr. Esprit stated that the district administration teams are responsible for providing data on probable or suspected clients, tracking the number of clients identified and sampled and tracking availability of supplies to name a few.

She explained that once a patient is contacted and identified the team is required to take a specimen from each contact, “that is where the swabbing comes in.”

“The samples are then transported to the medical lab ensuring that protocols for transportation of infectious material are maintained,” Dr. Esprit said. “Results are available within 24 to 48 hours.”

The Primary Health Care Director urged the public to cooperate with the officials of the Ministry of Health and to maintain home quarantine when asked to do so.

“We have major challenges, in that many persons have not heeded the instructions of social distancing and self-quarantine and have not taken these recommendations seriously,” Dr. Esprit remarked, pointing out that while the number of patients is in the minority in Dominica, there is a potential for exponential spread and transmission of the disease to most of the population.

“Bear in mind that there are very vulnerable people in our communities who will be negatively impacted and may even die from this highly contagious disease,” Dr. Esprit warned.

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