Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley.
Photo by George Alleyne

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley has said the economy could lose as much as Bds$25million (US$12.5 million) as a result of the two-week lockdown, which will go into effect this month.

She said during a televised address, the country would be on a two-week lockdown in February in an effort to reduce the risk of further COVID-19 spread, adding that saving lives of Barbadians was a priority.

Lamenting the recent deaths of three elderly people in a one week, which marked the first COVID-19 deaths since the seven recorded in April, the prime minister said the two-week period of “national pause” was necessary.

She said the cost will be a significant amount probably close to Bds$20-$25 million over the next two weeks, and probably deeper in terms of wider economic impact.

“For sure, the economy is going to be seriously affected but as we discussed with the International Monetary Fund’s Fiscal Affairs mission, we must spend what we will and we will keep the receipts and be accountable,” she said.

Mottley said she was confident the economy would eventually bounce back.

Barbados is now grappling with the community spread of COVID-19, according to Minister of Health, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic.

Guyana

The World Bank recently approved US$13.5 million in additional financing to support efforts to improve education in Guyana, as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on the sector.

The financing is specifically for the ongoing Guyana Secondary Education Improvement Project, which aims to improve teaching in mathematics and increase enrollment in secondary schools and provide equipment and training to support innovative technology-assisted education delivery methods.

The additional financing will also be used to complete construction of two secondary schools, supply resources for those schools and build a new secondary school.

Guyana’s education sector has made significant progress in the last decade, the World Bank noted.

The additional financing from the World Bank will also provide more resources to an existing pilot program that uses adaptive learning software on tablets for mathematics education.

The project, which was approved in 2014, has been extended to 2023 to ensure the successful completion of all the activities.

Jamaica

The Jamaica government has started discussions with China, Cuba and India with regard to obtaining COVID-10 vaccines when they become available.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton said that those countries were well advanced in the research and clinical trials of their vaccines and the government was interested in getting some.

Last month, when he announced the administration was exploring access to safe vaccines outside of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, Tufton said Jamaica would enter bilateral agreement meetings with the three nations to ascertain their level of support and to determine the best arrangement for acquisition and distribution of safe vaccines for the population.

The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the Caribbean and across the Americas under COVAX is anticipated to begin at the end of March.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has again rejected the imposition of curfews, a state of emergency, and an outright lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however recently announced public holidays, saying the strain of the pandemic and the ongoing effusive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano are beginning to show on the faces of citizens.

“We perhaps need as a people to pause, to reflect, to act more assuredly in the ways, which are inclusive in solidarity with each other and to be engaged fully for the long haul ahead,” he said in a national address.

Since Dec. 28, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has increased about five-fold, reaching 494 up to a week ago.

Of those, 359 were detected among residents with no recent travel history, two of whom have died. Both deceased are said to have had pre-existing conditions.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed St. Vincent and the Grenadine’s COVID-19 status, saying the country was having community transmission of the virus.

However, the government had objected to this classification, triggering a reversal by the world health governing body.

Suriname

Suriname Minister of Health, Amar Ramadhin has advised residents that a lockdown is imminent, with COVID-19 cases soaring in the last month, even as he announced stricter measures that included closure of the national borders.

Suriname has recorded 7,246 confirmed cases since the virus was detected in the country on March 13, 2020, Of those who tested positive, 152 have died, with 28 of those fatalities in January alone, making it the deadliest since the start of the pandemic.

The health minister said the number of cases has been climbing since the end of December 2020, with the number of new daily infections reaching an average of 80 daily.

He blamed the drastic increase on large groups not complying with the COVID-19 protocols during the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

As a result, Ramadhin said a lockdown is imminent and until that happens stricter measures have been implemented.

He said all regular passenger flights to countries including the Netherlands, Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana will be discontinued immediately.

National borders have been closed and security border with French Guiana is being stepped up.

 

Trinidad

Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has announced from last week before passengers are allowed to enter the plane to fly to the United States, they will have to present a negative COVDD-19 test that is no older than three days before the flight.

A release from CAL said effective January 26, 2020, all passengers traveling to the USA, will be required to present results of a negative Covid-19 test to travel.

CAL said it will be mandatory to have a Covid-19 test no older than three days before the flight departure date to the United States.

It said travelers must provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper of electronic) to the airline at check-in.

According to the airline, based on the instructions issued by the Public Health Authorities, passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result will not be allowed to travel.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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