SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The Caribbean’s first case of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported in the Dominica Republic, according to local health authorities.
On March 1, Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas said that a 62-year-old Italian man, who had arrived in the country on February 22 without showing symptoms, was confirmed to have the virus.
However, at the time of his arrival on the island, he was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and “has not shown serious complications.” It is possible that he may have later developed symptoms and also exposed others.
Since the outbreak on the virus, Italy has played a significant part in its rapid spread, with 1,200 confirmed cases in the country. And while this is the first case of the virus in the Caribbean region, the bordering Latin America region has reported several cases. So far, Mexico has reported four cases, Brazil has two (including one confirmed case from an Italian) and Ecuador has one. All the confirmed cases in Latin America are from people who had travelled recently to Europe.
Since the virus was first detected in January, some 88,339 people have contracted it and 3001 have died, according to the latest data. All but 128 of the deaths have been in China.
Many Caribbean islands have boosted safety procedures at their port-of-entries and implemented quarantine measures for travellers coming from Asia and Europe. Several islands like Jamaica and Cayman islands have also come under fire for refusing cruise ships coming from Europe to dock at local ports. While turning back tourists will have a negative impact on the islands’ tourism industry, Caribbean islands are not fully equipped with the resources to handle a virus of this magnitude, and thus, must implement other measures to protect its citizens.
In the United States, the country’s first coronavirus death was confirmed over the weekend. Health officials say that a man in his 50’s from the state of Washington died from the virus. The patient has underlying health conditions and had no recent travel history or contact with people known to be infected. As of March 1, the total number of cases in the U.S. stands at 73.
On February 29, the Trump administration outlined new travel restrictions affecting Iran, Italy and South Korea in response to the outbreak, and President Trump said he was considering further restrictions across the southern border.