As countries across the world grapple to control the Covid-19 pandemic, you could be forgiven for thinking that Dominica would have challenges in keeping up to date with appropriate protocols. On the contrary Dominica is one of the safest places in the world to be at this time.
IF YOU NEED TO ESCAPE TO AN ISLAND THAT HAS SOME OF THE BEST ENTRY PROTOCOLS TO KEEP COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL – DOMINICA IS THE ONLY CHOICE!!!
If you’re coming or planning to come to Dominica from a “high risk” country such as the UK, US, Guadeloupe, Martinique etc (check cdn.discoverdominica.com) then this article is a “must read”.
Having recently arrived from the UK, the whole experience – from arriving at Charles Douglas Airport until the end of my quarantine has left me feeling like a peacock! I’m so proud be connected to Dominica.
I am hopeful that after reading this article you will arrive at the same conclusion as I have – that Dominica is safe. Dominica’s strategic plan for controlling and restricting the spread of the Corona Virus is well-led and effective and that all the negative chatter on social media is really just that – chatter. Of course, there are some of you who may not have had the same experience as I did. However, quite a few persons that I know have come in to Dominica from high risk countries and their experience on arrival has been as positive as mine.
I was dreading coming back to Dominica as I’d received videos and been following all the “gossip” on social media about the horrors of arriving in Dominica, the hours of waiting in a “hanger” at the airport, transportation to quarantine and then stories about the stay in quarantine in Portsmouth. Quarantine was what I was dreading the most!
The thought of having to go to a Quarantine Facility filled me with fear on the one hand and indignation on the other! Why can’t I just go home if I have a negative PCR test and my rapid test result done on arrival in Dominica is also negative?
The first Covid case, after borders were opened in Dominica, was a gentleman who arrived from the UK with two negative PCR test results and who also had a rapid test on arrival in Dominica that was negative. He was home quarantined but living with his mother. Several days later, he tested positive for the virus!
Existing protocols were revised and people like me, coming in from “high risk” countries such as the UK, would have to be more closely monitored in the first few days of their arrival in Dominica. The objective is to stop the spread of the virus.
If you are coming from ‘high risk”, countries even with a negative PCR result, you are a potential carrier of COVID -19 as the virus takes a few days to show up and you could catch it after you have been tested, in the airport or on the plane for example. So, whatever your reason for coming to Dominica, you need to understand the protocol for entering Dominica and you can find this at cdn.discoverdominica.com.
I had familiarised myself with Dominica’s protocol prior to entering the country and knew that I would need to produce a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old on the day I arrive, as I was coming from a “high risk” country. I was going to need this in any event to board my flights to get to Dominica. At least 24 hours before flying I had to complete Dominica’s online health questionnaire which is at http://domcovid19.dominica.gov.dm/. This form is part of the process to obtaining the “health clearance” document that you must have, when travelling from a high risk country, to enter Dominica. You are required to upload a copy of your PCR test result in order to submit the form. Remember your PCR test result must not be more than 72 hours old when you arrive in Dominica.
Beware! Filling out the questionnaire is not clearance to enter Dominica. You must receive email confirmation which is known as the “health clearance” document. I can tell you from experience that if your uploaded PCR test result is more than 72 hours old when you submit the questionnaire, you will receive a refusal of entry into Dominica.
Very important….when you upload the questionnaire a screen will pop up informing you that your “submission has been received”. Please read the rest of the information on that page. A code is generated when you submit your completed questionnaire. I suggest you make a note of that code as you will need to quote it if you have to call to follow up. The code that I got was QU20200….
You should receive an email confirming you have health clearance to enter Dominica, within 24 hours of submitting the questionnaire. If you don’t receive that confirmation then call (+1 767) 276 7986 Mr Lodrick email@example.com or the COVID Helplines 448-2151/2153 or 611-4325. Remember you may be asked to quote the code which is generated when you submit the questionnaire.
So, armed with your negative PCR test result and your health clearance email, you can now enter the country.
Airlines flying to Dominica are well informed of the protocol and will ask you to produce the confirmation you have received from Dominica allowing you to enter the country. I witnessed a passenger who was not allowed to board the flight because she could not produce the health clearance document!
So I’ve got my negative PCR test. I also received my confirmation email – I was so happy but wait a minute…where was I going to stay?
I had choices – either the government quarantine facility or the many government approved hotels and guest houses, adequately equipped to accommodate guests in quarantine. I chose to stay at the latter and I’m so glad I made that decision. You will understand why later.
Click on this link for the full list of certified quarantine accommodation bit.ly/CvdCrtAcc There is now a dedicated helpline for persons needing to book quarantine accommodation – +1 767 615-0051.
I arrived in Dominica mid-September. I was dreading it. I had no idea what to expect. What a pleasant surprise! From stepping off the aircraft to arrival at my “quarantine” destination.
Everything and everyone was prepared for our arrival. The Environmental Health Officer escorted us from the aircraft to the assessment area (also known as the “hanger”) – away from the main building.
The area was very clean. All staff wore PPE and they were friendly, efficient and professional. Based on the stories I’d read that was not what I was expecting!
A nurse checked and recorded my temperature, and I was asked to sanitise my hands before entering the area. She even checked that my mask was on correctly. I was then ushered to the first booth and asked to produce my photo ID, negative PCR test result and the “health clearance” document authorising me to enter Dominica. After checking my documentation she returned my passport to me and asked me to move to the next booth to meet with the Police officer who again checked my passport and moved me along to meet with a nurse, who took my name, address, telephone number, where I was going to stay (quarantine – more on that later), my age (I didn’t want to tell her) and whether I had any health conditions. She then asked me to move to the next booth and explained that I would have to give a finger prick blood sample for the rapid diagnostic test.
Booth number 4 is where you get pricked!! The nurse was lovely. She told me she had to take a blood sample. I’m a coward. It hurt!
There are two waiting areas. For the purposes of this article we are looking at the waiting area if you have come from a high risk country. It’s called the “holding area”. See photo. It’s clean. There’s a nice big fan and I noticed two lovely gold vases with dried flowers. I waited patiently, listening to music on my headphones. There were several other persons waiting in my area. It was all very civilised and quiet.
About 30 minutes later, the lovely nurse who pricked my finger walked up to me, keeping a socially safe distance (which worried me just a tad at first). She beckoned me to come towards her and I noticed she had some pink forms in her hand. She was very discreet and spoke quietly. She showed me a pink card and explained that my test had come back NEGATIVE and that I was free to go! Hip! hip! hooray! I was now allowed to enter the main airport building, go through immigration and retrieve my luggage. The hotel organised my pick up by a government authorised taxi!
My quarantine period turned out to be a lovely impromptu holiday in lovely surroundings. I meditated. I slept. I spoke for ages with all my friends especially Tina, who herself was in a mountain top quarantine in Cockrane. I had such a blast!
I found a rare gem hidden away in the heights of Picard that I never knew existed and it’s just about an hour’s drive from the airport along what I consider to be a scenic route. Imagine that! Five years in Dominica and I have just discovered The Champs Hotel in Picard! See photos below.
On arrival I was told about the protocols for persons in quarantine and the procedures up to and including how and when I would be allowed to leave.
- I would have my temperature taken every day, recorded and reported to the health team in the area.
- I had to wear a mask any time I was outside of my room.
- I was not allowed to come into the restaurant or use the swimming pool if other guests were there.
- I received a What’sApp message and that was to be my mode of contact with staff should I wish, for example, to order food.
- I could not have visitors but a relative or friend could drop off goodies (snacks – you’re going to need them). They were not allowed to come to my room or interact with me.
I had a lovely sized balcony directly in front of my room with a table and chair I could use if I needed fresh air. I had good free wifi. There were lots of sockets so no problem plugging in or charging phones and laptops. The room was fully air conditioned.
So here’s the thing; when I read the travel protocol I thought I would be in quarantine for 5 days. Wrong! The PCR test is done on the 5th day following your arrival in Dominica. It takes at least 48 hours to get the results so, plan to be in quarantine for at least 7 days – not 5!
On the fifth day I was introduced to the health team. They were so friendly – the Dominican charm from the health team in Portsmouth. Before I knew it the test was over. I was told it could take up to 48 hours to get my result. Forty-eight hours later my test result came back negative.
My quarantine at The Champs was over. I was totally relaxed – looking forward to going home.
Remember you now have a choice. As long as you’ve got a negative PCR test, your health clearance document and you get a negative result on your rapid diagnostic test when you arrive, you can choose to stay in a government approved hotel or guest house to quarantine. Use this link to book your accommodation bit.ly/CydCrtAcc or call the Helpline on +1 767 615-0551. Since my arrival yet more improvements! Guests in quarantine can now go hiking, diving etc whilst in quarantine! This is called “managed experiences”. This allows visitors to be able to get out and about without interacting with uncertified locals. For more information call the Helpline or check out the “Safe in Nature – The Managed Experience” brochure which you will find at cnd.discoverdominica.com.
So, you’ve come from a high risk country. You’re here for 10 days. For at least 7 of those days you’re going to be in mandatory quarantine. That of itself is a turn off. However, if you are able, through careful planning and observing the strict protocols, to go hiking or take a tour around the country without interacting with locals (masked up and in your pre-approved vehicle) surely that is a bonus.
Dominica’s travellers’ protocol is a lot better than we’ve been led to believe. Personally, I think that if all the countries in the world adopted the approach that Dominica has, to control this dreaded Covid-19 virus, there would be a lot fewer Covid cases worldwide.
I’m immensely proud of Dominica and the various agencies working together, the protocols in place for the entry of travellers, especially those from high risk countries.
I hope that after you have read this article you will start planning your return or your holiday to Dominica. We need you. We are safe. We give you options that I believe no other Caribbean country is offering and we do with charm and grace. You will be pleasantly surprised and honestly, if you follow the travel advice and the protocol to get into Dominica, you will find that all the “chatter” out there is “much ado about nothing”!