Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, Dr. Irving McIntyre has confirmed the presence of Delta Variant of Covid-19 in Dominica.
During a press briefing on Monday night, Dr. McIntyre stressed the increased importance of vaccination in light of that development.
“This has become even more relevant in light of the fact that we finally received confirmation from [the Caribbean Public Health Agency] (CARPHA) that we do have the Delta Variant in Dominica,” he revealed.
Dr. McIntyre continued, “All our samples sent to CARPHA, which were subsequently sent to the University of the West Indies for sequencing, returned positive for the Delta Variant.”
According to him, this particular variant rarely has any cough and fever, but rather joint pains, headache, neck and upper back pain, general weakness, loss of appetite and pneumonia.
He further explained that the Delta Variant is also more virulent and takes less time to become extreme, leading to a higher death rate.
“This is because the Delta Variant does not remain in the nasal cavity for a long period of time, but quickly settles down to the lungs leading to pneumonia and in some cases eventually leading to death,” Dr. McIntyre explained.
He said it is of paramount importance that everyone participates in the vaccination roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.
“We have had numerous consultations with the Ministry of Education since the Pfizer vaccine will be available to persons within the age group of 12 to 17 years,” he stated. “We are developing new strategies to get to the target population to include the corporate sector, public service, schools and the wider community.”
Dr. McIntyre gave the assurance that Dominica’s stock of vaccines – 13,943 Sinopharm vaccines, 10,000 AstraZeneca and the expected 46,800 Pfizer vaccines – is enough vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
The Health Minister reiterated the importance of following the public, health and social measures that have been put in place.
“These guidelines are scientific and have proven to work,” he noted. “These are the very same guidelines that kept us safe in the early stages of the Pandemic.”
He encouraged everyone to wear a mask in public, keep 6ft away from others, avoid large gatherings, wash hands regularly, practice proper respiratory etiquette, and sanitize frequently touched surfaces.
Dr. McIntyre also appealed to the businesses which were allowed to open, to ensure that the protocols specific to their businesses are implemented and adhered to.
“I must remind you that monitoring of your businesses is ongoing and failure to comply may result in closure,” he warned.