The Caribbean region is being urged to review its national hurricane response plans and conduct simulation exercises to ensure each island’s disaster and COVID-19 responses are aligned.

Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne made this appeal during a recent briefing.

She stated: “For countries in the path of a storm, PAHO is here to help you prepare and will be ready to support you in the event of an emergency.”

The PAHO Director said countries in the Caribbean, Central America as well as the eastern and southern coast of the USA, are bracing for what experts say could possibly be one of the worst hurricane seasons on record.

More unprecedented still is the prospect of responding to hurricane amid a pandemic.

Dr Etienne expressed concern that as storms ravage towns and communities they decimate sanitation systems, contaminate water supplies and fracture the delivery of health care.

These are three lifelines that are critical to containing the spread of COVID-19.

PAHO has already issued guidelines to manage emergency shelters including precautions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 by designating distinct zones to allow for social distancing

It also includes regularly disinfecting high traffic areas and swiftly isolating individuals who show signs of illness.

She said PAHO is working to provide emergency response supplies throughout the region as well as to secure critical facilities like laboratories, quarantine and isolation centres.

This will ensure diagnosis and treatment for COVID-19 can continue even under difficult circumstances.