(SNO) – Dominica’s health minister, Dr. Irving McIntyre, has sought to quell rumors that there are positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the island, saying this is not the case
However, a family has been place in precautionary isolation after coming from a cruise, although they have tested negative for the now-infamous virus.
For days now, rumors have been rife in Dominica that there were positive cases of the virus on the island, with allegations that the government was hiding information from the general public.
The matter reached a crescendo on Sunday afternoon when word spread that a positive case of the coronavirus was entering Dominica on the ferry. Social media soon became flooded with photos and videos of an ambulance parked at the Bay Front in Roseau and a person in a hazmat suit spraying a chemical, reportedly at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
But in a statement late Sunday, Dr. McIntyre rubbished the rumors, saying Dominica remains free of the virus after numerous tests were done.
“To date, Dominica remains one of the few Caribbean islands that does not have any case of coronavirus,” he stated.
He explained that to carry out any tests, a person must satisfy the criteria as outline in the case definitions put forward by the World Health Organization.
“We do not carry out random testing since it is not recommended,” McIntyre said. “And more importantly it would amount wasting of vital resources, that is test kits which are in short supply internationally and regionally.”
He stated that Dominica is the only country in the OECS with the capacity to test for coronavirus and numerous tests have been carried out over the past week.
“And all the tests done so far have been negative,” he remarked. “At present, we do not have any case of coronavirus in Dominica.”
He further explained that proactive measures such as surveillance and home quarantine activities may create fake news and misinformation on social media.
“I urge Dominicans to pay attention to information released by the Ministry of Health,” McIntyre said. “We are closely monitoring the scenario COVID-19 and will give you honest and factual updates as time goes along.”
Meanwhile, a family of four, which arrived in Dominica on Sunday, has been isolated as a precautionary measure.
The family was on a cruise ship in Martinique in which two positive cases of the virus were detected.
State-owned DBS Radio reported on Monday morning that the family was tested before boarding the ferry from Martinique to Dominica and the results were negative.
They were tested again upon arrival in Dominica and the results were also negative.
However, they were sent into isolation at home as a precaution.