The number of confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease Zika have risen to 18 in Dominica however, officials continue to insist that there is no need for alarm.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Johnson said none of the individuals has suffered complications, none has been hospitalized and all have recuperated well.
“The total cumulative number of cases we have now that we have received from CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency based in Trinidad) from since we have been sending samples is 18,” he said.
Despite this, Johnson said there is no need for alarm.
“We want to encourage persons to really stay calm, there is no need for alarm at this stage,” he noted.
He stated that some of the symptoms present were rash, fever, joint pains, muscle pains and some case of conjunctivitis.
“We suspected they had the Zika virus and therefore, we took samples from them and we sent the samples to CARPHA for confirmation,” he stated. “But in most times by the time we get back the results, those persons are, for all intents and purposes, healthy individuals. They go around their business the rash, the conjunctivitis, the joint pain, the muscle pains have all been resolved.”
Johnson pointed out the cases are only laboratory-tested positive ones and not about “the number of persons who are currently sick, lying down on a bed in hospital or at their homes with Zika virus.”
“We test a number of samples, we get back a number of results, we are talking about the number of positive laboratory results we get back but we are not necessarily saying that all of those individuals are sick somewhere,” he explained.
He pointed out that although there is no need for alarm, the battle against the disease should be ongoing.
“The clean-up campaign must continue, the government has expended a significant amount of resources, I mean significant amount of resources in terms of that National Clean Up Campaign that took place on the 18th of February,” he stated. “But clean-up campaign is not a one-time event, it has to be sustained. So the community, the community leaders, the village councils, in fact, everybody should continue the clean-up campaign or clean up the community.”
He said everyone has a responsibility to organize clean-up in their communities and not necessarily wait on the government to reduce the breeding sites of mosquitos.
“The Ministry of Health cannot do it all,” Dr. Johnson said.
Dominica confirmed its first case of the disease on March 15, 2016 and health officials said there was no need for alarm.
Later in March, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States added Dominica to the list of countries that some US citizens were advised to avoid amid the spread of the virus.
On March 30, Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge has said that he was “not very concerned” about the effect of such an advisory on the local tourism industry.
Four more cases were confirmed on April 15 and officials continue to say there was no need for alarm.
On April 16, the United Workers Party (UWP) called on the government to form a task force, consisting of different people of different political persuasion, to combat the disease.