Prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said the matter of placing a travel advisory for Ebola-stricken countries is being discussed by cabinet, while leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, has blasted the government for lagging behind other OECS countries in their approach to the deadly virus.
In recent times, several regional countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Colombia have placed a ban on travelers from several West African countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Congo, Nigeria and Liberia.
Skerrit said a decision on the matter could be reached as early as next week.
Speaking on state-owned DBS Radio on Friday, Skerrit said the ministry of health has furnished the cabinet with a recommendation and it is currently being discussed.
“There is a recommendation from the ministry of health to put a travel advisory on the countries that have been badly battered by the Ebola virus,” he said. “The matter is before cabinet, we are discussing it.”
He said more consultation is needed.
“Because it is not always a decision you take lightly,” he noted. “One has to be mindful of the economic isolation of countries. Once you take a decision like that it may end up posing more challenges in confronting the Ebola virus.”
But Linton has criticized the Skerrit administration for what he deemed “a slothful and negligent approach” to the Ebola threat.
Speaking on Q95 FM Radio’s The Hot Seat programme, Linton said the threat of Ebola became apparent in March this year, yet the government did nothing significant about it until October after the UWP called for action.
He noted that it was only one day after the UWP denounced Government’s lethargic approach that officials from the Ministry of Health went public with a highly questionable statement that Domincia’s health officials were “ready” for Ebola.
He pointed out that the following day, Skerrit effectively “threw those health officials under the bus when he announced the ejection of Nigerian group ‘Flavour’ from the lineup of artistes for Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival (WCMF).”
Linton described the government’s decision to bar Flavour from performing at the festival “as a veritable knee-jerk reaction which exposed a frightening delinquency on the part of Government and pointed to Governments inability to take effective proactive action to deal with a possible health crisis.”
Skerrit said a decision on the matter could be reached by next week.
“At the end of the day one has to be mindful of the safety of our own citizens,” he said. “I think the cabinet will take a decision very shortly, as early as early next week, that is the next cabinet meeting on either to approve or disapprove the recommendation.”
The World Health Organization has said there is are nearly 5,000 confirmed and suspected case of Ebola with almost 4,500 deaths. It said there could be as many as 10,000 new cases of the deadly virus by the end of the year.