Sunday, April 21, 2024

Dominica’s PM announces new COVID-19 measures, fines

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Roseau – The Dominica government Tuesday announced a series of new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including a curfew and increased fines for people not adhering to the Public Health Act as the authorities deal with a cluster of cases arising from two events held recently.

“We will be accepting no nonsense in the country over the next seven days and beyond,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said. He said that “the penalty for people who fail to comply with this order has been increased to EC$5 000.

“These measures are not intended to scare the population but to ensure that we act quickly to avoid a deterioration of the situation,” Skerrit said in an address to the nation, interrupting the closing debate of the 2021 national budget in Parliament.

Skerrit said that PCR and other tests carried out on Sunday as a result of the two public activities had showed that “an individual or individuals had entered the country illegally and took part in a bikers’ activity along with a Jam at a location in Pottersvile”, on the outskirts of the capital on July 25.

He said that testing done by the ministry of health on Monday indicated that “to date there are 10 confirmed cases associated with this event, plus two imported cases, bringing the total number of active cases in Dominica to 12”.

Skerrit said that 14 of the individuals who received Rapid Antigen Tests had also tested positive.

He warned that this cluster of cases “is quite different from other clusters, mainly because a number of the people who have tested positive and their contacts are presenting flu like symptoms [and] this makes the virus much more contagious.

“Therefore to reduce the likelihood of further infection, the Ministry of Health has recommended some measures which the Cabinet has accepted,” Skerrit said, noting that they go into effect immediately.

He said the measures include a curfew that would be in effect from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily for the next seven days in the first instance.

“However, in the case of the weekend, the curfew will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday and will continue throughout the day on Sunday and end on Monday, August 9, at 5 a.m. Curfew will then resume the night of Monday, August 9, at 6 p.m.,” Skerrit said.

The rime minister said that all non-essential businesses are to remain closed and that essential workers, as well as people entering or leaving the country, and those conducting banking by appointments, among others, will be allowed to move about.

He said businesses that will be allowed to operate will do so between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., but must implement the various protocols, including wearing masks and adhering to social distancing.

“All bars and nightclubs will remain closed. There will be no dining in at restaurants – take out only, no consumption of alcohol in the public, churches and other places of worship are to remain closed.

‘Weddings are to be limited to five individuals, while funerals are to be no more than ten individuals,” Skerrit said, adding that private parties, recreational and social events, group tours and loud music will not be permitted.

He said also there would be no visitations to the hospitals, prisons, infirmary or quarantine facilities or any home providing care for the elderly and children.

Skerrit said while the air and seaports will remain open “masks are mandatory by law and the police will be authorised to give you a ticket if you are seen not wearing a mask in the public”.

He made a special appeal to people who are contacts of the individuals who have tested positive for the virus, or for individuals who had attended any of the two events to get tested.

“We remind all individuals to remain vigilant and adhere to the COVID-19 protocols,” he said, while reiterating the need for citizens to get vaccinated.

In his broadcast, Skerrit said he was disappointed that front line workers had been receiving “much hostility and abuse by a few contacts and their families”.

“We as a country must condemn this behaviour. These officials are working hard to protect us as a country and the least we could do is to be cordial and cooperative. We must all as responsible citizens play our part and adhere to the measures and protocols,” Skerrit said.

The prime minister said if everyone complies with the new rules and regulations over the next seven days “we can reopen the country fully thereafter”. (CMC)

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