It’s here: Dominican Republic confirms Caribbean’s first case of coronavirus

Health officials in tourism-dependent Dominican Republic have confirmed the country’s first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Sunday, March 1.

A statement from Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas noted that a 62-year-old Italian man had arrived in the country last Saturday (Feb. 22), without showing symptoms.

It is likely, however, that the man encountered many people, exposing them to the virus as he was only hospitalised yesterday (Feb. 29). He was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and “has not shown serious complications.”

Medical officials are reportedly also quarantining a French tourist, according to local media.

Just days prior, the Dominican Republic had refused entry to Braemar cruise ship out of fears passengers and crew on board were suspected of contracting the deadly disease.

The latest news comes following an announcement by CARICOM Chair Mia Mottley as she seeks an audience with regional leaders on how to contain COVID-19 from creating a strain in countries across the Caribbean basin.

Mottley, who also doubles as Prime Minister of Barbados, said on Sunday that the special meeting will bring together Caribbean leaders, health ministers and their chief medical officers.

Representatives from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency will also be present.

The disease has seemingly begun its spread across Latin America as Brazil’s confirmed two COVID-19 cases, Mexico has two and Ecuador has one, according to the World Health Organisation.