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Jun 1, 2020

COVID-19 Poses New Challenges to Hurricane Season Response

Edmond Castro

Having an above average year for storms in 2020 brings another set of challenges and concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The issue of crowded shelters complicates social distancing and other health regulations and as a result may impact disaster preparedness plans. A busy hurricane season may also signal a stretching of resources especially if active cases are recorded.  These two emergency situations may test the country’s ability to safeguard its people, but may also instill fear in persons who may need to seek shelter, but are afraid of being exposed to the virus. All in all, it presents serious challenges and that is what we asked Minister of NEMO, Edmond Castro about on Saturday. Is NEMO prepared and how are they going to respond during a pandemic?

 

Edmond Castro, NEMO Minister

“This is a strange one.  This is new to all of us in this region. We have never had a pandemic like this that we know we can plan for hurricane, we can’t plan for earthquake. But in the aftermath of either or, earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, we can get up, dust off our shoes and deal with the situation. But with a pandemic like COVID-19, you can’t see it. You don’t know where it is at. You don’t know how to treat it. You don’t know how to deal with it. So, for us, we, from NEMO perspective, have to make sure that we have the necessary equipment like the PPEs for the public officers that will be manning those facilities and so on. We also have to look at a situation whereby we will need the testing equipment so that if a person has a temperature over and above whatever the prescribed limit is, we have to know what to do with them, where to recommend that they can go because it would be really a disaster to have people in a housing, a shelter, whereby we have one person affected that can affect the entire population within that center so it is a new thing for us and new for all of us and we are trying our best to see how we can manage this situation and keep our population as safe as possible.”


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