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Health officials address Corona Virus concerns; outlines measures to ensure safety

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Dr. Mcintyre (centre) addresses the media at today’s press conference

In an effort to alleviate stress, anxiety and tension among the Dominican public, the Ministry of Health say measures are in place to ensure safety and protection from the deadly Coronavirus.

Health Minister Dr. Irving McIntyre told a press conference on Wednesday that based on the World Health Organization (WHO) calculation, the risk of the virus is at medium to low for the Caribbean region.

 “We have things under control,” Dr. McInyre said.

He said already, an initial alert was sent to the hospital and district staff on January 10th prior to the human-to human transmission of occurrence.

 “So, it gives you an idea that the Ministry of Health has been on top of this game for a while now…”, he said.

There is also ongoing training to provide updated and standard case definitions to all relevant stakeholders.

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

Dr. McIntyre said further that active surveillance will be conducted at the health facilities and at various points of entry.

“All district medical officers are alerted of the situation, secondly ambulance and immigration officers will be alerted through the International Health Regulation Steering Committee.

A meeting is also scheduled for January 30th where health officials will discuss the implementation of routine measures, such as placement of trained staff at the various ports of entry.

He further explained that before anyone is to arrive at Dominica’s ports of entry, “through technology we actually know where they are coming from.”

“If they are coming from China, we have that in advance, so we can actually be waiting for these people and if any symptoms we take the necessary actions,” he said.

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

“Selected nurses and Doctors…a review of Intensive Care Unit capacity to facilitate the isolation of persons if need be…” he added.

He said the fourth aspect of the Health Ministry’s plan is the sample submissions.

“Specimens to be collected from symptomatic patients,” he revealed.

Dr. McIntrye said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA will be assisting the Ministry of Health to getting such samples to the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, “since in the Caribbean we do not have the capability of getting laboratory tests done for this coronavirus”

Additionally, arrangements have been made with both CARPHA and PAHO to assist us in getting samples to the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta.

He said the fifth aspect of the Ministry of Health plan is infection control.

“Applications of standard precautions for all patients, that is hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment according to risk assessment, both N95 and surgical masks can be utilized,” he stated.

The six aspect of the Ministry of Health’s plan is risk communication and health promotional interventions.

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.

At least 132 people are dead and more than 6,000 cases have been confirmed in mainland China, as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across Asia and the rest of the world.

Imported cases have been reported by other countries including Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States of America (Washington).

The symptoms maybe that of the flu and include runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever.

Some cases develop into a pneumonia of severe acute respiratory infections.

At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.





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

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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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ANNOUNCEMENT: Closure of credit unions

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COVID-19: Police break up church gathering in Antigua; church leader to be charged

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Lawmen in Antigua and Barbuda yesterday dispersed a church gathering in a village called Bolans because there were more than 25 members assembled.

In fact, the Jamaican pastor, Uriah Taylor and a deacon were taken into police custody and could possibly be charged.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne declared a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory curfew which officially took effect Saturday night.

For the next two weeks, the nightly curfew will be in place from 8 pm until 6 am and no more than 25 people can be in any social gathering at any one time, including a church.

Police say when they arrived on the scene were met hostile members who tried to restrict the actions of the authority.

Attorney General, Steadroy Benjamin, said the police were sent to put an end to the illegal service and arrested one of the members who was also charged for the battery of a police officer. He is accused of pushing the officer and preventing him from carrying out his duties.

The attorney general stated that despite the advice given by the established churches last week Sunday, he is appalled that this gathering took place. Benjamin urged Antiguans and Barbudans to adhere to the guidelines set out by the government to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector Frankie Thomas, corroborated Benjamin’s account of the events and said that when lawmen arrived at the Bolans New Testament Church of God, they were obstructed during the execution of their duties.

He said the pastor will be charged.

Here’s the video that circulated on social media.

 





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