Reopening the Country - Part II
Freedom Speaks Column
We have notice that some persons are beginning to let down their guard as it relates to preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are grateful that we have thus far contained the spread of COVID-19 in Dominica and though it is the right thing to ease official restriction as the country works towards a full removal of the curfew and lockdown, we must understand that we are not completely out of the woods yet given the likelihood of yet undetected spread of the virus, the continued risks posed by illegal entry into the country, and the return of our Dominican people (rightly so) who were stuck overseas including those who worked on cruise ships.
We noted in last week's article that we can't keep our country in a perpetual lockdown, neither is it healthy to live in fear. Consequently, we asked the following questions. Once the lockdown is removed and the border is reopened, can we expect to avoid all risk of the re-emergency of COVID-19? How do we manage those risks and what management tools should become routine over the next two years? So far, we discussed aspects related to random testing, capacity for treating persons who may be infected with COVID-19 and experience severe symptoms - should future rounds ensue, a need for sustained focus on proper hygiene, and maintaining appropriately adjusted physical distancing protocols.
In this article, let us continue this discussion, starting with the importance of boosting the immune system. Since a vaccine for COVID-19 is not yet available and if at all one can be developed, its widespread availability is still a year or two away, and since there is not yet a widely accepted and utilized cure for the disease, then it must be expected that many more persons throughout the world will be infected with the COVID-19.
The mortality rate of those confirmed cases could be between two percent to eight percent judging from what has already occurred. This is an inevitable outcome (unless (lockdowns continue) until a suitable vaccine or a cure is found. But indefinite lockdowns, are impractical as the economic and social cost will be much too high and then the cure could just become worst that the disease. The solution seems to be in progressing towards a new normal way of life, at least for the time being, including the aspects we have already discussed. But in addition to these aspects, as a people we must take up new eating habits that will contribute to boasting our immune system. The ability for our bodies to fight off the disease is currently our best defence as shown by the experience thus far and this can contribute to minimizing the mortality rate of the disease should there be future outburst of the disease in our country. This health consciousness and healthier lifestyles must become part of the new normal.
The Dominica Freedom Party advises that we as a people must rise to the occasion. Taking up a healthy eating lifestyle will do us so much good beyond our ability to fight COVID-19.
Do go online and do some research. Find out the natural foods that will help you boost your immune system and find out the things that we consume that will undermine the strength of our immune system. Eat much more of the good stuff and in the process develop some new habits such as drinking ginger tea. If you find that it is costly to eat healthy, then help yourself through back-yard gardening – grow some kale, signage and lemon grass for instance. Knock off some old habits and instead spend the money on heathier foods. For instance, why buy aerated artificial drinks that are filled with processed sugars and devoid of immune boasting nutrients? Instead, spend the money on purchasing lemons or other fruits rich in vitamin C and make your own juice. But let us also help each other by growing healthy foods and sharing with our family, friends, neighbours and the less fortunate – let this too be a part of the new habits.
But the ministries of health and agriculture, and other relevant stakeholders must champion that cause and this should be appropriately reflected in their work programmes. They must reflect on the kinds of policies, programmes and actions needed to support the entrenching of a strong health consciousness. This must include effective public relations efforts to sensitize and educate people on the virtues of eating well, and its special importance in the fight against COVID-19.
But other strategies could span the use of tax incentives and disincentives, continued efforts to encourage home gardening, and demonstrating how to use and prepared delicious meals and snacks using healthy ingredients.
We will continue this discussion next week when we will focus on the new travel protocols that may be desirable and the use of communication technology.
Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.