As Dominica nears a month without registering a new case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, health officials here are warning: keep your guard up people.

So far, Dominica has had 16 cases and no deaths due to COVID-19.

"What we do not know is how long we will be in this outbreak situation and how long it will take to develop this coveted herd immunity," said Dr. Shalauddin, the national epidemiologist at one of the COVID-19 press briefings. "The fight is far from over".

He added: "The COVID-19 pandemic is showing us that it is not survival of the fittest but survival of the smartest.

"We need to play it safe and play it smart".

Echoing that thought a couple days ago was Dr. Irving McIntyre, the Minister of Health as he announced the easing of restrictions on the general public and businesses in Dominica.

"Adjusting the restrictive measures is not a carte blanche," he said. "It does not mean the business as usual."

Dr. McIntyre said the ministry of health has reduced the restrictions because of: zero levels of transmission presently; the capacity of the health care system to handle any resurgence of cases and the government's ability to tighten public health and social measures particularly in vulnerable settings such as schools, hospitals, churches, supermarkets and fresh market areas.

New Measures

Among the measures the ministry of health has recommended are:

  • Allowing reopening of electronic and appliances shops

  • The opening of clothes and textile shops

  • The public is given permission to access beaches and rivers under specific conditions, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday

  • There must not be any barbecue on the beaches or rivers and no consumption of alcohol on the beaches or rivers

  • There must not be loud music, picnics or parties on beaches

  • Groups of not more than 10 persons will be allowed

  • People must also practice physical distancing as much as possible

  • Business places are permitted to reopen and function and can do so on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

  • Business allowed to operate must put in place measures to ensure that the staff and customers adhere to the ministry of health preventative measures and guidelines as follows: Maintain physical distances- 6-ft with clear markings where applicable; mandatory wearing of mask; mandatory hand sanitizing on entry and exit to the facility; giving of appointments where applicable.

"Failure to implement these necessary measures will result in the temporary closure of the specific business places," Dr. McIntyre said.

The Ministry of Health wants the following businesses to remain closed:

  • Bars, nightclubs and games shops

  • Hair salons and the barber shops

  • Sulphur spars, schools, churches, gyms, manicure and pedicure shops

  • At the Princess Margaret Hospital – no visiting hours; no elective surgeries; oncology and cardiology clinics are by appointments; temperature screening at entry to the hospital.

  • Complete lock down on Sundays

  • Curfew from 6 pm to 6am, Mondays to Saturdays

These restrictions will be reviewed on 11 May 2020, Dr. McIntyre said.