Although the outbreaks registered in the Dominican Republic due to the variants of the covid-19 in the United Kingdom and Brazil do not pose an immediate threat to Puerto Rico, it is necessary to remain vigilant in the face of the geographical proximity between the two countries, agreed health workers consulted by THE SPOKESMAN.
During the past few days, the neighboring island’s Ministry of Public Health (MSP) detected the B.1.1.7 variants from the United Kingdom, as well as P.1, which originated in Brazil. At least 19 provinces out of a total of 31 have reported covid outbreaks of these two variants.
For Víctor Ramos, president of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rico, vaccination and control of ports in Puerto Rico will be the determining factors to avoid further infections.
He pointed out that the outbreaks in the Dominican Republic could be due to the slow vaccination process.
“The level of vaccination in the Dominican Republic is simply not like in Puerto Rico or the United States. And the other important thing to do to keep numbers down like we have now is genomic surveillance; not allow them to enter through airports, “he said.
According to press reports published in the Dominican Republic, the MSP reported that there are four variants that have affected the country, which also increases the possibility of hospitalization among those infected and increases the fatality rate.
You have to be attentive
Ramos emphasized that every passenger on an international flight is required to bring a negative test as part of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protocol.
He clarified that passengers on domestic flights can arrive in the United States without the test if they are vaccinated and that the test is required if they are not. In both cases, the passenger of a domestic flight would not be prohibited from entering any state or territory of the United States, contrary to the passenger arriving on the Island on an international flight.
Affected by “misinformation”
For Dr. Carlos Pérez, a native of the Dominican Republic, the community transmission that has affected this country is due to the lack of interest of the people in getting vaccinated, misinformation on social networks and the ineffectiveness of the Dominican government in attacking outbreaks in the provinces.
“There are vaccines available there. What they have found is a population reluctant to get vaccinated for different reasons (…) There has been a lot of misinformation on the networks. Apparently the (Dominican) government has not been effective in carrying the message ”, stressed the doctor.
Contrary to what happens in his country, he mentioned that the Dominican community in Puerto Rico, as well as that of New York, has been very active in the vaccination process. He reported that they have carried out clinics in the Barceló square, in the Dominican House, as well as in the Dominican Consulate. He added that they have taken advantage of these days to carry the message of the benefits of vaccination to the community.
For his part, Dr. Mario Paulino Payano stressed that the entry of any variant of covid-19 to Puerto Rico can occur with the visit of tourists from any country, including the United States, where the variant that originated in India also circulates.
“It must be remembered that more than half of the Puerto Rican population is in the United States. And all the variants of the covid-19 are in the United States, in all the states. This apart from the Dominican Republic, which also has variants (…) Vaccination is the only solution we have to prevent the spread of the different variants, ”he stressed.