In as much as we would have liked to safeguard our people from this dreaded COVID -19 (Coronavirus); unfortunately, this enemy has entered our sweet Dominica, and now as a nation, we need to rush into high gear, especially since the authorities did not proactively prepare the nation for this Coronavirus landfall.
Though studies show that the COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, it must not take away our voice.Therefore, The Alternative Peoples’ Party (APP) calls on every Dominican to come together to ensure that all people – regardless of their wealth or privilege, as well as gender, sexuality, age, or any other status – are able to fight this disease. We need to work together so as to protect our families, local communities and Dominica by extension.
We were warned that “Dominican will have to grapple under COVID – 19 or Dominica will sink under COVID – 19” and that warning should be heeded. Let us not only grapple; let us show the world why Dominica and Dominicans once had among the best and highest rated primary healthcare in the western hemisphere. We are Dominicans and we know how to survive, but to succeed against this pandemic, we need to work together and trust each other.
Our health is our most valuable asset and APP believes that nothing should be placed before the people’s wellbeing. We should, therefore, not let the economy die but we cannot die trying to save the economy.
As COVID-19 spreads around the world, putting pressure on strong and weak health systems alike, we recognise the need to make costly sacrifice in the interest of the people.
In light of this, we echo the call made by many Citizens to and ask for the authorities to lock-down the country for four to six weeks so that the spread of the virus could be managed.
If we were in government today, this is what we would do:
-Establish a united COVID – 19 coordinating unit (across partisan lines).
-We would establish a protocol for caring for and supporting first respondents in the healthcare fraternity: nurses, ward aids, doctors, physicians, administrative employees, orderlies, psychiatrists, pharmacists and others.
-Set up fully staffed and professionally operated quarantine operations at the premises which housed Ross University (incidentally, this should have already been established) and recall retired healthcare professionals, security and other first respondent professionals to assist with quarantining services.
-Lock the country down for three weeks (at the minimum) and review the status of the COVID – 19 spread and general preparedness of all sectors before further actions are taken.
-There would be no patient visits at the hospitals (Roseau and Portsmouth) to include acute psychiatric unit (APU), senior citizen facilities, state prison and other such facilities where vulnerable citizens are kept. We would also increase the state subsidy to the Dominica Association of Persons with Disability (DAPD) for a period of three months in the first instance; taking care of most of their operating budget and looking after the personal needs of all its members.
-Make essential services available to the people at a substantially reduced cost for 60 days by negotiating with providers and using the power of the state’s purse to bargain the best deal for all parties in question.
-Subsidize elderly care and completely quarantine every senior citizen through the ‘Yes We Care’ initiative, working in collaboration with families and a squadron of youthful volunteers. A special health task-force will be deployed in the Kalinago Territory (to be headed by Kalinago health experts), tasked with caring for members of our indigenous tribe – especially the elders.
-Negotiate with public sector authorities to come up with a plan that would best caution the impact of COVID – 19 on public sector employees and operatives.
-Engage public transportation entertainers and assist them with retrofitting the vehicles for the secure transportation of passengers for essential purposes. We would subsidize trips by negotiating with patrol providers to pass on a three-dollar savings on each gallon of gas to participating public transport owners/businesses.
-We would emphasize the need for self-protection and personal responsibility to hygiene through the COVID – 19 & You Campaign. This would be launched and introduced as a multi-media initiative to include all the local media entities through daily simulcast during the lockdown period, from 9:00 am – midday. Our COVID -19 coordinating unit would provide daily briefings to the public and accommodate public reaction and interaction through an independent press core which will be stationed at a secured press facility in the city. Members of this press core will be credentialed and given special assistance to and from the briefings on a daily basis.
-We would use national television, social media and other such media forms to transmit children-friendly learning content to primary school students (different levels at different times). The national broadcasting entities would be encouraged to transmit educational and uplifting and/or entertaining content like comedic drama/plays, stories, positive and uplifting music, debates and other light-hearted, lively content.
-The local authorities (village councils) will serve as contact units between the COVID – 19 coordinating unit / government and the people and all resources will be delivered through the local authorities: elected, parliamentarians, shadow representatives and community leaders will serve as constituency liaisons (they will cover all areas with the assistance and under the guidance of health and security officials).
-We would declare the amount of funds which was received from the World Bank for COVID – 19 recovery efforts and channel it through the COVID -19 coordinating unit.
There are a number of other initiatives that an APP government would have implemented in the interest of farmers, fisherfolk, other skilled professionals and service entities like military and paramilitary officials; but those will be discussed later.
We would like to applaud the move to install standpipes around the city – Roseau. This is a superb initiative, especially for the random city users – especially our street-bound citizens, but the taping mechanism could have been a bit more carefully thought through. The manual taps only create the avenue for germ sharing and a sensor system or foot-pedal starter would have complemented the project. But nevertheless, this is a good move to return stand-pipes in the city and we are hoping that this project can be extended to the villages and communities around the island.
In light of the situation, APP has taken the decision to push back the official launch of the party which was slated for May 11, to a subsequent date and time. We will, however, release our social media network early in the month of April, so look out for that.
In closing, we encourage you our fellow Citizens to take care of your mental and spiritual health, as managing these are just as important as taking care of your physical health.
This means that, while you’re social distancing because of the coronavirus, focusing on self-care activities is so important—anything that boosts your mood or keeps you feeling calm during your isolation time is now a necessity.
We wish our people well and we pledge to work together to stamp out COVID – 19 from our shores.
Sincerely in the struggle,
The APP Interim Team
We are a centrist conservative political movement built on democratic principles. Our focus is on women and youth in politics, but we embrace everyone across party lines with no prejudice.