Health Minister Irving McIntyre speaks during parliament meeting on 6 April 2020
Health Minister Irving McIntyre speaks during parliament meeting on 6 April 2020

The Government of Dominica is facing intense pressure to impose a national lockdown to control the new and fast-spreading coronavirus, a surge that Dominica has been experiencing since the beginning of August.

Many have warned that inaction could result in an economic, human and social disaster, as the possible Delta variant continues to spread across the island.

Despite those mounting calls for more than just the nightly curfew which has been implemented since August 3rd, Health Minister Dr. Irvin McIntyre is of the view that shutting down the country is nothing more than, "the easy way out."

Speaking during a recent interview on DBS's Talking Point, the Health Minister stressed that finding the right balance is essential to promoting an inclusive recovery instead of negative effects which a complete lockdown will ultimately have on the residents.

"With shutting down there are many things you have to consider. People have to eat; people have their livelihoods. Granted, we're not going to sacrifice life for a dollar but at the same time, it's all about striking a balance," he said.

Dr. McIntyre went on to add that "just telling the government to shut down the country, and then what, nothing functions, what about our livelihoods. People have to survive. People need to make a dollar, people need to eat, people need to function, businesses have to function."

As opposed to taking such a route, Dr. McIntyre called on the citizens of Dominica to comply and practice the public health and social measures which have been highlighted by his Ministry to manage the spread of the virus.

"Someone might say, well, if we shut down then we shut down the virus because it needs someone to transmit it around. Granted, we understand that, but why don't we just wear a mask? Why don't we stop socializing? Why don't we stop gathering? Why don't we stop all these jams? Why don't we stop all these parties? Why don't we follow what the police say, why don't we play our part?" asked Dr. McIntyre.

He noted that a balance can be struck where the citizens and country can still function while at the same time maintaining livelihoods once the people adhere to the protocols.

"But just saying shut down, that's the easy man's way. Let us play a part. Let us be cooperative. It's a collective effort. We can do it together if we follow the public health and social measures," the health minister advised.

As Dominica experiences this second wave, he has issued a new call for citizens to rally together to defeat this life-threatening virus instead of letting their guard down.

Dr. McIntyre further emphasised to the public to refocus, and for each person to play his/her part and not get daunted by the task ahead.

"This is not the time for us to panic and be depressed. We've been through those difficult times before, of course, we can handle it again. So we just have to get our energies together, our collective effort together, and let us support each other, and let's just follow the public health and social measures," he said. "So I'm just telling everyone, no, you don't give up, you don't panic. This is definitely a challenge. Let us change the challenge into an opportunity."

He once again cautioned citizens to wear masks, avoid public gatherings, keep their locations clean, wash their hands and stay indoors whenever possible.

"Tell your friend, tell your neighbour, let everyone know what we ought to do. We can do that; we can pull it off together. But we have to do it together. Everyone must educate everyone, and just follow the guidelines," Dominica's health minister urged.