Will Dominica drop quarantine requirements for Covid-vaccinated travelers?
People, Places & Policy By Dr. Emanuel Finn
In a statement the government of Dominica states that the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to Dominica by the end of March this year. According to the communiqué, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) plans to develop corresponding public education programs to educate the population on the benefits of the vaccine.
Meanwhile the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), our very own Dr. Carissa Etienne appeals to the Dominican people to get vaccinated in order to slow down or stop any transmission of Covid-19. Also U.S based Dominican surgeon Dr. Dangleben joins Etienne in urging Dominicans to get vaccinated when it becomes available.
At present, non-vaccinated visitors and travelers to Dominica are permitted to enter as long as they self-isolate in quarantine for about 7 to 10 days and provide a negative PCR result taken within 72 hours of arrival.
So today's pressing question is when most of Dominicans get the vaccine will the government of Dominica drop quarantine requirement for Covid-vaccinated travelers and visitors? Will fully-vaccinated visitors permitted to enter the Nature Island without having to quarantine for 10 – 14 days provided they present a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of travel? Of course travelers and visitors must also submit an authentic certificate from their national health authority as evidence they've received both doses of the vaccine.
It's incumbent on the Ministries of Health and Tourism and Port officials to carefully examine and consider this moving issue and make the right policy decision for the sake of Dominica's economic health. My position is these new measures should be favorably considered and implemented instead of fully continuing with the mandatory quarantine process.
This will prove to be a step in the right direction when it comes to reviving tourism and trade. This will even open up the tourism industry for the locals, primarily for the small hotels, street vendors, and other stakeholders who are struggling and also provide the kick that the economy desperately needs.
But before that policy is implemented at least 70-80 percent of eligible Dominicans should be vaccinated. If this goal is achieved, restrictions should be further relaxed. Consequently, those who are permitted to enter Dominica will simply be required to present proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. The government, hotel and tourism communities should pull out all the stops to ensure that tourists and visitors can safely return to Dominica as soon as possible.
Regarding Covid infections in Dominica, if a comparisons are to be made, the island has fared very well. All the necessary relevant protocols have been put in place to open the borders. But for the sake of the struggling economy, it is critically important to reconsider, revisit and reevaluate existing protocols now that the (cavalry) vaccine is around the corner. If the right new protocols are put in place with enforcement, monitoring, protocols and quality control measures, tourists and visits will still want to come and spend a holiday in Dominica.
I suggest that Dominica follow the Seychelles, the 99,000 population archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa, which is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves. It has announced plans to ditch mandatory quarantine for vaccinated travelers and incoming visitors. Also Cyprus, an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean will follow Seychelles beginning this March.
But of course, this coronavirus has to be monitored and protocols have to be changed and shifted depending on the trajectory of the pandemic and virulent strains and its mutations.