Given the high presence of Chinese immigrant workers traveling between Dominica and China, the Roseau government, as well as that of Trinidad and Tobago, imposed travel restrictions on people traveling between the two territories on Thursday due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the international emergency in the face of the rapid increase in patients affected by Wuhan’s coronavirus, and more than 8,000 in eighteen countries, although 99 percent of cases have been diagnosed within China.
An emergency committee of 15 experts, convened by the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared this alert, which he had ruled out a week ago, after the appearance of several infections among people in countries such as Germany, Japan, the US or Vietnam , in patients who had not recently traveled to China.
The announcement of restrictions in Dominica was made by the Minister of Health, Irvin McIntyre, an hour before a similar announcement from the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We are in constant contact with the embassy officials here. The Chinese will stay here and will not travel back to China,” said Dominica Health Minister.
He also said that the risk of coronavirus affecting the Caribbean region is currently medium to low.
With regard to Dominican students in China, McIntyre assured the nation, in a public statement, that they are safe and have been advised to remain there for their continued security.
The minister revealed that the students are cooperating with the authorities and maintain a positive spirit.
“Since the outbreak everyone has been advised to wear masks. All citizens are safe and because there is an incubation period of 14 days … it is not advisable for anyone to leave Wuhan at this time,” he added.
The ministry says that emergency funds were sent to students to buy water and supplies.
Eighty-four dominiqueses are conducting studies in China, 15 of which are based in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago government also announced plans to restrict the entry of passengers from China for a period of 14 days as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the Attorney General’s office is drafting the legal notices necessary to implement the restrictions.
The measures will enter into “almost immediate effect” as soon as the legal notices are published, as was done in the Government’s response to the Ebola virus in 2014 and 2015.
According to the public health ordinance, the coronavirus will be listed as a dangerous infectious disease.
Deyalsingh also revealed that as inspections continue at the airport, more than 250 flights have been examined and no passenger has presented symptoms of the virus.
The Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago assured the country that there are tools to protect frontline workers who will receive the necessary additional resources.
Information on quarantine arrangements has not yet been provided.
Regarding this year’s carnival to be held in February, the minister said the festivities will continue as planned, unless “something really dramatic” occurs.
It is the sixth time that WHO declares this type of global emergency, after which it activated before the outbreak of H1N1 flu (2009), those of Ebola in West Africa (2014) and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2019), the of polio in 2014 and that of Zika virus in 2016.