Caribbean RoundUp

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, center, shares a light moment with Antigua and Barbuda's Foreign Minister Everly Paul Chet Greene, left, as they listen to remarks at the start of a plenary session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Washington.
Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin, File

Antigua

The Antigua and Barbuda government is offering to help Barbados with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has assured the Mia Mottley’s administration that he will not be prohibiting travel to and from Barbados as the nation grapples with a sudden rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, despite all the diligence and careful protocols that have been implemented by her government to ensure that the virus does not spread in the community.

He said the situation in Barbados will be brought under control and new measures will be implemented to stop a recurrence as “your health authorities and law enforcement agencies have acted swiftly to address the problem.”

In his letter to Mottley, the Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said, “while our border authorities will continue rigid adherence to our protocols for entry into Antigua and Barbuda we will not be prohibiting travel to and from Barbados.”

Browne letter comes in the aftermath of concerns expressed in November by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Everly Paul Greene, when the Mottley government placed Antigua and Barbuda on a list of countries deemed medium risk for COVID-19.

Greene then said the position taken by Barbados was unacceptable based on his country’s COVID-19 figures.

Bahamas

The Bahamas Ministry of Education is being urged to repeat the 2020 education year based on the results of last year’s national examination results.

In a recent statement, the president of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT), Belinda Wilson made the recommendation and pointed to the exam results that saw a decline in 2020 when compared to 2019.

She is recommending that the Ministry of Education stop, review, cancel, pause, and consider students having an opportunity to repeat the 2020 school year and that the social program practices cease forthwith.

Wilson said the educational system had failed the children of The Bahamas over and over.

The head of the union stated that the results from the local examinations were not surprising.

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands Premier, Alden McLaughlin has announced that the British Overseas territory will be reopening its borders in March.

The premier, in his New Year’s message, said that with the expected arrival of coronavirus vaccines next week, the country’s most vulnerable will be protected and based on this, the borders can reopen in the coming months.

He said by March the health authorities would have successfully vaccinated a large number of the population, including all of those at most risk and if that target can be achieved the borders should be able to open once again.

The premier, however, stated that all visitors must be vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test or they will be required to be quarantined.

McLaughlin noted that availability of vaccines is the safest way to open up the country and the economy more broadly.

He said the first shipment of vaccines will arrive in early January and the government will then roll out the country’s national vaccination plan.

The first batch of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is scheduled to arrive aboard a British Airways flight this week and according to Governor Martyn Roper, there will be enough doses to inoculate 5,000 people.

McLaughlin, Roper and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee will be among those taking the vaccination to initiate the roll-out of the campaign.

Haiti

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is helping Haitian pupils return to be better prepared to learn for the 2020-2021 academic year through the distribution of books and essential sanitary supplies.

USAID has partnered with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to distribute, French and Creole reading, learning and teaching materials to first and second-grade pupils and teachers in 600 schools throughout Haiti.

According to USAID, the initiative will help keep pupils learning in a safe environment while preventing the spreads of Covid-19.

USAID has also partnered with the Caris Foundation and UNICEF to distribute hand-washing stations, buckets, soap, chlorine and Covid-19 awareness pamphlets to 300 schools in five departments.

St. Lucia

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says he will be among the first persons in St Lucia to take the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine as he moves to quell fears among the population regarding the safety of the vaccine that is likely to become available in 2021.

United States and European regulations have approved the vaccines being developed for the virus that has killed at least five St Lucians and infected more than 330 people.

Chastanet told reporters that while persons who did not have to travel may have the option of not taking the vaccine, there are going to be some companies that would require individuals to take a vaccine because the threat of being closed down at any point is disruptive business.

The prime minister said he is satisfied that despite the fact that the vaccine is being expedited, there’s a lot of investigation taking place.

St. Vincent

Health officials in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are considering fitting electronic bracelets on person who will be placed in quarantine to recover from the Covid-19 virus.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who was speaking on state-owned NBC radio last week-end.

He said health officials were in discussions with the police to see whether the monitoring can be done via its video surveillance system.

Last month the Ministry of Health spent several days, with the help from the police and the public in trying to track down a visitor from the United Kingdom who allegedly breached his quarantine time.

Dr. Gonsalves said the electronic tracking has been done in some places but had not been as effective as it should be.

The prime minister made the comments as health officials rolled out a revised protocol requiring travelers from high-risk countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom and some Caribbean countries, to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he believes that the worst is behind Trinidad and Tobago.

He said with the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, global demand and economic activity are expected to return; improvements are expected in world energy prices and commodity markets; and employment in the restaurant, entertainment, and distribution sectors are expected back slowly.

Rowley said his government will do its best to continue to steer the country to a place of growth and prosperity with the aid of the “Roadmap to Recovery” plan.

“The new beginning I speak of will be a re-orientation of the economy, a transition into the digital age, which will create opportunities for small businesses, and increasing employment in this rea,” he said.

The prime minister noted that while the Covid-19 vaccines are considered the light at the end of the tunnel, the scars on the global economy will take many years to heal.

The prime minister said opportunities have also been identified in manufacturing, energy services, green technology and agriculture.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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