Roseau, Dominica, September 9th, 2021 – Dominica recorded its first case of Covid19 on March 24th, 2020. For the next 494 days, just over 16 months, up until July 31st, 2021, there were 278 Covid 19 cases and no Covid 19 deaths. And then in August 2021 alone, we recorded 1,554 cases and 4 deaths. For the first seven days of September 2021, we have 343 confirmed cases and two deaths.
At September 7th, 2021 – 2,175 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and 6 Covid 19 related deaths.
The incidence of Covid 19 infections in Dominica has sky rocketed in the last six weeks and the Cabinet of ministers appears to have resorted to daily changes in the transmission prevention protocols that are illogical, confusing and discouraging to a people yearning for proper leadership direction out of a public health and economic crisis.
- The reopening of bars for “purchase and pick-up only”. A bar is a place of business that sells and serves alcoholic drinks and provides music and other forms of entertainment. If you close a bar for public health purposes and then reopen it for purchase and pick-up only – no music; no alcohol sales; and no drinking at the bar – then it is no longer a bar. It is a shop selling drinks to be consumed anywhere else but at the place of purchase. Such a business is not viable and will not survive. How does that decision of the Cabinet help to deal with the public health and economic challenges of Covid 19?
- The increase of the number of people at church services, weddings and funerals from 10 to 25 in an average space of 3,000 sq. ft. (120 sq. ft per person) while buses are allowed to transport 13 persons in an average space of 50 sq. ft (4 sq. ft. per person). How does that decision of the Cabinet help to deal with the public health and economic challenges of Covid 19?
- The refusal to provide Covid 19 relief and economic stimulus assistance to the people of Dominica notwithstanding 158 million dollars received in grants and soft loans for Covid 19 emergency response and over 4.2 billion dollars from the sale of Dominican citizenship being held unlawfully outside of Dominica under private control. How does that decision of the Cabinet help to deal with the public health and economic challenges of Covid 19?
- The increase of 17 cents per gallon on the price of petrol in the height of the Covid 19 pandemic when the cost of imported fuel has decreased by 5 cents per gallon. How does that decision of the Cabinet help to deal with the public health and economic challenges of Covid 19?
Covid 19 vaccines have been available in Dominica since February 2021, 7 months ago. The United Workers Party has never opposed vaccinations against Covid 19. Indeed, we have supported the vaccine solution and encouraged Dominicans especially those who have entrusted their health care through the years to the prescriptions of medical science to vaccinate and not procrastinate. Nonetheless, we respect the rights of fellow human beings who on religious, medical or other grounds are opposed to vaccination.
The Prime Minister promised on February 9th, 2021 that 35,000 Dominicans (50% of the population) would be vaccinated by April 2021. At the end of August 2021, four months later, 20,279 Dominicans (29% of the population) were vaccinated. So, the man who runs things in Dominica had a spectacular leadership failure in achieving his Covid vaccination goal. And he failed because of a silly, elitist, politicized communication strategy on the value of the vaccines in fighting Covid 19 and keeping Dominica safe.
Now we have a harp on mandatory vaccinations that appears to be playing the blame game for the benefit of the ruling party. That will not help us. The public interest at this time requires an increase in the number of fully vaccinated Dominicans from 20,279 at the end of August to at least 50 thousand by the end of December 2021. And we can do that, not with a divisive, politically charged national conversation on mandatory vaccinations, but with a proper non-political education campaign on the scientific truths and facts of Covid 19 vaccines and their usefulness as tools from medical science to fight a deadly virus.
In this environment of confused Covid 19 policy direction and rapidly increasing infections, the burden of responsibility on our health care and other frontline workers is becoming more and more difficult to bear. We thank them all for service above and beyond the call of duty and encourage everyone to take greater personal responsibility for adhering to the hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing disciplines that will keep themselves and their families safe.
We also thank the multi-lateral aid institutions that have provided Covid response financing and the friendly governments who have given financial assistance and made significant contributions of vaccines, medical supplies and equipment.
Thank you very much.