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Be mindful of COVID during hurricane season

Tre Greaves

Be mindful of COVID during hurricane season
CDEMA’s executive director Elizabeth Riley (FILE)

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An above average Atlantic Hurricane Season is predicted, but the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), is urging individuals not to become complacent about the COVID-19 pandemic.

During their annual Atlantic Hurricane Season press conference, CDEMA’s acting executive director Elizabeth Riley reminded Caribbean residents that although hurricane season began, COVID-19 did not disappear.

“The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) reports that the risk of more cases occurring in the Caribbean remains high due to ongoing community spread and the presence of COVID-19 variants which are of concern in the region. Therefore, we fully understand that active surveillance, testing, COVID-19 control and prevention measures including physical distancing, hand hygiene and the wearing of masks should be maintained to interrupt viral transmission and reduce mortality associated with the virus,” Riley said.

“Individuals must continue to adhere to COVID-19 protocols in the face of hurricane threats, especially if public sheltering is required. Housing in public shelters is limited due to COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines so where possible, private sheltering may be an appropriate option.”

In her remarks, Riley recalled that the season got off to an earlier start for the seventh consecutive year when Tropical Storm Ana formed on May 22, ahead of the official June 1 start.

She also cited information from the Colorado State University (CSU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre.

In April CSU predicted 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. That was an increase of more than 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes over the last 20 years.

Similarly, the Climate Prediction Centre predicted that there would be a 60 per cent chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with 13 to 20 named storms. The centre said six to ten could become hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes.

Riley urged everyone to be as prepared as they could be.

“It only takes one event to make an impact so hurricane preparedness is critical every year regardless of how much activity is forecast,” she cautioned. (TG)