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By Kadeem Joseph

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Antigua and Barbuda’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is reminding residents that while the present decline in new and active Covid-19 cases puts the country in a “good place”, the need for adherence to public health guidelines has not diminished.

The caution follows Cabinet’s decision to relax the (8pm to 5am) curfew to 11pm to 5am, which took effect Thursday evening.

Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas said that she is “very happy” that the country is now at a point where the curfew can be adjusted since the restricted hours does impact how people and businesses operate but Dr Sealy-Thomas added that the risk for another Covid-19 spike is not just confined to a ‘super spreader event’ but expands to “little things that people will do” that will put them at risk for contracting the virus.

She explained that it is for this reason that bars will remain closed.

“I am hopeful that bar operators will respect that, because we’ve had in the past the experience of bars operating and persons are not wearing masks, there is not much physical distancing and we have had circumstances that led to Covid being spread,” she explained.

Dr Sealey-Thomas is also advising residents who frequent restaurants to “limit” interacting between tables, warning that if “as a family you might go to a restaurant and another family is at another table, don’t join tables”.

“We still don’t want the mixing of persons and family members in that way, unless it is absolutely necessary,” she added.

The CMO said that, as much as possible, people should try to wear their masks when they are not eating or drinking in a general effort to adhere to safety requirements.

Dr Sealey-Thomas said that since the spike in Covid cases earlier this year, there has been a “decline in the number of cases, by about 30 percent, each week”.

Consequently, the doctor also noted that the number of new cases recorded, hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19 are also on the decline.

“We are in a good place and I want us to continue on that trend of decreasing the number of cases so that we could go back to more of a sense of normalcy in our activities, especially sporting activities,” Dr Sealey-Thomas explained.

In early March, the country’s active Covid-19 cases had topped 455, the highest on record. That number has steadily decreased to 231, a month and a half later, based on the dashboard released from the Ministry of Health on April 14.