ROSEAU, Dominica – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says he has written to the United States, complaining at the decision by Washington to place Dominica and other Caribbean countries on a list of high-risk countries to be avoided by its nationals because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Let me say to the United States, you know this travel advisory that they issued…stop your ignorance and so forth, if you do not know, call me, call us we will give you information, but this unnecessary travel advisory (is) based on nothing really.
“Dominica is one of the top countries in the management of COVID-19 and we are prepared to share our practices with countries like the United States. But this (advisory) is not necessary and if you are saying don’t come to Dominica, what about your country.”
According to the latest figures, the United States has recorded 162,000 and 5.05 million infections as a result of the virus, while the worldwide figures are 732,000 deaths and 19.9 million infections since the first case was detected in China last December.
By comparison, Dominica has recorded 18 confirmed cases and no deaths. Only Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have registered in excess of 200 positive cases and nearly 100 deaths within CARICOM.
Skerrit, speaking on his regular Sunday night television programme, questioned why would the United States “want to create this problem between you and the citizens of the Caribbean.
“Why would you tell people don’t come to our country because of COVID-19? We haven’t had a case in how many months and everybody who has tested positive, knock on wood, thank God, in Dominica has survived, including an 85-year-old man with all set of underlying conditions.
‘Let us not be so indifferent to the plight of the developing world and developing countries like Dominica. We do not have the resources that you have, but we have pride in ourselves and we are a resilient people. We have been through many challenges and we have survived.
‘It is unfortunate that this was done and I am hoping that the United States would fix this. We have written to them formally, objecting to this information,” Skerrit added.
Over the last weekend, a US State Department official said that the placement of countries like Dominica on a level 3 or high-risk country for COVID-19 under the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ranking is actually a downgrading of the Centre’s travel advisory.
“Most of the countries in the world (not just Dominica) are listed as a level 3 or a level 4 destination. This comes after they have lifted the previous level 4 worldwide travel advisory that has been in effect since March 19, which advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” said the State Department official, who is based in the caribbean.
“The CDC is providing this updated travel advice in light of the risk that COVID poses and so that travellers can make informed travel decisions. Level 3 includes a wide range of countries including countries as diverse as Norway, Canada, Japan, and Zimbabwe,” the official added, with the Barbados-based US Embassy providing some clarity on the advisory which was published on the CDC website on August 6.
“The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented risks for travellers. Given current global conditions, most countries around the world are currently a Level 3 or Level 4. We routinely review safety and security conditions in destinations across the world, and will update destination-specific information as appropriate,” the embassy noted.
All CARICOM countries are listed in the CDC travel advisory.
Meanwhile, Skerrit has also warned nationals about taking to the airwaves here to call for demonstrations and other activities, saying that these situations are being used by Washington to further impose travel restrictions on the island.
“On the issue of threats of demonstrations, this is what our citizens have to be mindful of. If you go on the radio, those talks shows and say we are going to protest, block roads…these things have implications,” he said, adding that he is not the only person being affected by these calls.
“It will affect the hotels, it will affect the tour guides, the taxi-operators…it will affect everybody, because if people don’t come to Dominica, the hotels will be empty, no tour guide can make money, no your operator can make money.
‘So we must be very careful about what is our contributions towards this threat of civil disobedience and civil unrest in the country,” he said.