(CMC)— Dominica has confirmed the presence of the Delta strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is urging citizens to get vaccinated to curb the spread of the virus in the country.
Health Minister Dr Irvine McIntyre said confirmation of the variant being present came from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
“We finally received confirmation from CARPHA that we do have the Delta variant in Dominica. All of our samples sent to CARPHA which were subsequently sent to the University of the West Indies for sequencing returned positive for the Delta variant,” the health minister said in a broadcast without giving the number of positive cases.
He said the Delta variant really has no cough and fever, rather joint pain, headache, neck and upper back pain, general weakness, loss of appetite and pneumonia.
“The Delta variant is also more virulent and takes less time to become extreme leading to a higher death rate. This is because the Delta variant does not remain in the nasal cavity for a long period of time, but quickly settles down to the lungs leading to pneumonia and in some cases eventually leading to death,” he said.
Dr McIntyre said Dominicans needed to participate fully in the national vaccination programme with the Pfizer vaccine also becoming available.
“We have had numerous consultations with the Ministry of Education since Pfizer vaccines will be available to persons within the age group 12 to 17 years as well. We are developing new strategies to get to the target population to include the corporate sector, public service, schools and the wider community.
“We have on island enough vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity,” he said, adding there were options in vaccines available to the country.
“Vaccination is not only a Ministry of Health or government activity. The government has made vaccines available at no cost to the people of this country. We have to be responsible for ourselves. We not only decrease transmission, but to protect the vulnerable and elderly at home.
”We have seen that the unvaccinated are most at risk of death and we must take heed,” Dr McIntyre said.
Dominica has recorded four deaths and 1, 638 positive cases linked to the COVID-19 since the first case was detected in March last year.