Dr Kenneth Darroux, Petite Savanne Parliamentary Representative
Dr Kenneth Darroux, Petite Savanne Parliamentary Representative

Dr. Gilda Nesty Tonge, the Acting Director of Primary Health Care in Dominica, has issued a warning to persons who are acting contrary to the policies governing COVID-19 on the island. She spoke at an official COVID-19 briefing as the ministry of health confirmed another COVID-19 case in Dominica from the Bellevue community.

Her call is a reaction to action taken by employers and school principals who recently sent employees and students home because of a COVID-19 case in their community.

Last week, a number of primary and secondary schools on the island sent home students after it was revealed and confirmed that the latest COVID-19 case was from Petite Savanne, the constituency of Dr. Kenneth Darroux.

"Everyone in a particular neighborhood where a positive case has been detected should not take it on their own to decide, to refrain from school or assume sick leave from work. Neither should an employer or principal turn his or her employee or students away unless being properly advised by the Ministry of Health," Dr. Nesty-Tonge said.

"Contact tracing can protect you, your family and by extension your community," she said. "It is the process of identifying, assessing and managing people who have been exposed to a disease, in this case, Coronavirus."

She said the goals of contact tracing include early detection, early isolation of contacts and reduction in community and healthcare associated spread.

"A contact can be classified as a high risk contact or primary contact, that is a close contact or a low risk or casual contact," Dr. Nesty Tonge said. "These are referred to as our secondary or tertiary contacts."

She added that a high risk or primary contact is anyone who has been within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.

Because he was a contact of a contact of the suspected COVID-19 case in Petite Savanne, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, the Parliamentary Representative and former minister of health decide to follow standard protocol- self quarantine.

"I think it would be remiss of me if I don't mention that while I wasn't one of the primary contacts, but because of contacts with a close contact, I think there was also a cause for concern. From Sunday, I decided to self-isolate myself and my family," Dr. Darroux said during a live interview on state-owned DBS radio on Wednesday morning.

Dr. Darroux said that out of an abundance of caution he requested a test, the result of which was negative. He received the result on Tuesday 6th October.

"I really, for the record, do not want to confirm anything…but you would have heard the number of primary contacts that were identified and that by itself is extremely mind-boggling," he said.

He said that one could very well imagine if a quarter or 50 % of these cases tested positive the chaos that could have occurred in the community.

Dr. Darroux said this should serve as a rude awakening that we should never let down our guard.

"If individuals continue to enter the country infected, we are going to see a drastic increase in the number of positive cases, hospitalizations and the worst case scenario is death. This is what will eventually happen if we do not take steps to curb illegal entries to Dominica," Dr. Darroux said.

He also thanked the primary health team for their hard work thus far.

Meantime, all students and workers who were sent home because of the perceived threat of contracting the virus are now back at school and work.