COVID-19: National Epidemiologist cautions Dominicans that ‘the fight is far from over’

National Epidemiologist, Dr. Shallauddin Ahmed, has warned residents of a possible second wave of COVID-19 hitting Dominica.

Monday, May 4th marked one month since a new COVID-19 case has been reported on the island and although this may be a time for rejoicing, health officials have pleaded with the public to avoid becoming complacent.

Dr. Ahmed is urging people to continue to practice the life-saving behaviours that they have adopted.

“Dominican citizens have adopted social distancing, good hand hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette as part of the new normal for them and this has proven successful so far and it is working but we need to be wary of a possible second wave. The fight is far from over,” he cautioned during the weekly COVID-19 press briefing.

The epidemiologist noted that this pandemic is showing the world that it is not about “survival of the fittest” but “survival of the smartest” meaning that countries that ranked high in the preparedness and healthcare index, “have now been brought to their knees” by this invisible pathogen.

Ahmed stressed, “We need to play it safe and play smart. Therefore, continuing to stay home, wearing masks when you are out and practising good hygiene is essential in order for us to be able to begin the process of opening the country and moving past this pandemic.”

Director of Primary Health Care, Dr. Laura Esprit, who also spoke at that press briefing, reminded Dominicans that the 2020 Hurricane seasons is less than one month away and COVID-19 will not disappear because of this approaching period.

“This ‘COVICANE’ season,” she advised, “is one to be taken seriously as we are confronted with not one, but two phenomena – infectious nature and natural disaster. So, let’s bear this in mind as we continue with the duel preparations to protect the lives of our families and our citizens.”

Dr. Esprit exhorted Dominicans not to focus only on the decreasing number of active cases on the island but to welcome recovered cases back to their communities.

She urged citizens to avoid stigmatization and to provide the necessary reassurance and support to all who have recovered thus far.

“The public’s reaction can either hinder or advance the clients complete recovery which includes both their physical and mental well-being and this can impact their reintegration post COVID…we are all vulnerable to COVID and would want to have the Golden Rule apply to us – treating others as we would want to be treated.”

Health Minister, Dr. Irving McIntyre also called on Dominicans to remain focused and to turn this challenging time into an opportunity of better life practices.

He urged residents to spend time building their families at home, to prioritize spending money on necessary items and practice backyard gardening.

“We also have opportunities as regards to preventing future infections because some of the measures that we’re doing here in terms of hand-washing, respiratory etiquette, sanitizing and disinfecting of our homes and workplaces must continue even after COVID,” the minister pointed out.

To date, the total confirmed cases remain at sixteen (16). Fourteen (14) have recovered and two (2) are active.

Based on the Government of Dominica’s COVID-19 Report released on Sunday, May 3, there are eleven (11) people in quarantine.

In all, 416 persons have been tested on the island.