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By Machela Osagboro

While social distancing, hand-washing and sanitizing have been included in the clarion call to rally residents to adopt these proven sanitary methods to prevent further local spread of the novel coronavirus at bay, a former health official has added his voice to those who suggested that more stringent measures ought to be put in place.

Antigua and Barbuda’s former chief health inspector, Lionel Michael, highlighted some other guidelines which he said would also prove to be effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19 on the twin island.

“Social distancing has climbed the ladder significantly in terms of our public health prevention measures, but we cannot ignore the other control measures, they must be combined with social distancing,” he said. “What we should be doing is trying to reduce the reproduction number of the virus; most studies are showing that one person can infect three persons and they in turn can infect another three and so on; it is exponential.”

Michael asserted that the most effective way to reduce the reproductive rate of the global pandemic is through employing aggressive suppression methods, such as a partial shut-down, followed by a complete shut-down of the country.

  He also suggested the use of wearing proper face masks should be done in conjunction with proper hand hygiene before and after the mask is worn.

 The public health official commented that while it is important to pay attention to this preventative measure, people in the country must also seriously engage in other sanitizing methods to keep the virus at bay.

“Everyone is home now so you need to be washing your hands, you need to be engaging your cough etiquette practices and so on,” the health official advised. 

Michael stated that the British Virgin Islands, where he lives and works, is currently under total lockdown for the next 14 days and the supermarkets have done a good job in sanitising surfaces and enforcing social distancing.

 “The major supermarkets have very aggressive social distancing measures in place. It is marked on the floor in aisles of the supermarket. All the supermarkets have hand-washing facilities, running water and soap outside of the supermarket, plus hand sanitizing equipment for people to clean their hands,” he shared. 

Michael therefore urged local supermarket operators and residents to regularly sanitize surfaces properly after people have come into contact with them, by using cleaning agents such as bleach, Dettol and Pine Sol, among others.

“What is important is the cleaning and disinfecting of store surfaces, particularly the touch surface. Even though we are practising social distancing, in the supermarket, we pick up lettuce and stuff in the plastic and the different surfaces in supermarkets, how do we clean those?” asked Michael. While suppression of the spread of the virus is pertinent in curbing the outbreak on island, Michael added that more random testing of the population should be done to detect possible cases.

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