Caribbean RoundUp

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, of Barbados, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. The prime minister has extend the lockdown of the country due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Associated Press/Richard Drew, file

Barbados

Prime Minister Mia Mottley has extended the lock-down of the country until the end of month as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb.

On the same day the announcement was made the island recorded the first death of a healthcare worker due to the virus.

Mottley said the period of “national pause,” which was to end last week, would continue until Feb. 28.

The prime minister said there would an estimated loss in economic activity of about Bds$50 million (US$75 million) as a result of the extended lock-down.

“This is not an easy decision that we’ve had to make. The answer from the finance and economic team is, yes, we will be hurt by further extension, but it will not collapse our economy,” Mottley said.

She said she also had extensive discussions with regional and hemispheric officials, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and they all agreed that “the economic impact of the lock-down, while rough, can be withstood by the Barbados economy.”

Mottley said the advisers have indicated that “we will come in at just under Bds$78 million (US$39 million) for the first part of the lock-down, in terms of loss of economic activity if we go for an additional period of time-just under two weeks- then the most that will be is probably another Bds $75 million. So that we are potentially looking at a loss of about Bds$150 million in economic activity for the month of February.”

The nursing’s assistant death brings to 25 the number of death attributed to COVID-19 since the first case was reported in March 2020.

Up to last week, Barbados had recorded 2,226 confirmed cases.

 

Caribbean

CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque has thanked Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for her provision of COVID-19 vaccines for the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Mottley directed that 100 doses of the batch donated to Guyana be provided to the staff of the Secretariat based at the headquarters of the Community in Guyana.

The prime minister has also made provision for staff of the Secretariat based in Barbados.

“It is with immense gratitude that I welcome the prime minister’s generosity in supplying the Secretariat with vaccines to combat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the secretary general said in a statement.

“This gesture underlines her support for the staff of the Secretariat and concern for their well-being. It is a further demonstration of her unswerving commitment to regional integration,” it said.

Mottley donated vaccines to other member states of the Community from a batch received from the government of India.

Last week some staff members were vaccinated at the Secretariat’s headquarters, including the secretary general.

Dominica also donated to other member states from a batch received from the government of India.

 

Jamaica

The Jamaican government is moving to modernize the country’s laws and strengthen crime-fighting strategies before the end of the year.

This was revealed by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang who said amendments to key pieces of legislation to strengthen crime fighting are being programed for completion by the end of the 2020/2021 fiscal year.

He said these include developing the proposed new Firearms Act; the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organization) Act, popularly called the “anti-gang”” legislation; and regulations for the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

Chang noted that 80 percent of homicides in Jamaica are committed using illegal guns adding that repealing the existing Firearms Act and developing its replacement “is critical in the fight against crime.”

The minister said amendments to the anti-gang legislation is an “ongoing activity”, designed to “keep it relevant and bring it into the 21st century.”
He said it is anticipated that the latest round of engagements “should be coming through the parliament process very quickly”.

Chang emphasized that in the fight against crime, violence and corruption the supporting legislative framework “must be strong.”

 

Guyana

Guyana continues to top the list of countries in the Americas that are most affected by cervical cancer.

According to the Ministry of Health, while figures for the last two reporting years are not immediately available, in 2018 there was an age-standardized incidence rate of 32.7 per 100,000 women.

It said between 2013 and 2017, cervical cancer was listed as the second most frequently-diagnosed cancer in Guyana with 523 cases or 16 percent of all reported cases.

Based on information from the Ministry of Health, there were 185 cervical cancer-related deaths.

Dr. Martin Campbell of the Ministry of Health said the highest numbers of reported cervical cancer deaths are among women of African and East Indian ancestry.

 

Haiti

A Supreme Court and a senior police official were among several people arrested for their role in an alleged plot to oust President Jovenel Moise.

According to Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe, who described the plot as “operation catastrophe,” judge Hiviquel Dabreizel and Inspector General for the national police force, Marie Louise Gauthier were included in the 23 who were detained.

Some United States currency, guns and ammunition were also seized during the operation in Habitation Petit Bois in the Tabarre neighborhood of the capital.

The arrests were made after leading opposition figures recently announced plans to replace Moise with a new head of state.

Moise, who recently announced plans to hold a referendum on amending the constitution in the French-speaking CARICOM member state, claimed the aim of those arrested was to make an “attempt on my life.”

Moise, who has ruled by decree since mid-January, has stated he would not hand over power to the winner of the elections but would not step down until his term expires in 2022.

 

St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis began rolling out its mass COVID-19 vaccination program, now that it has received its first batch of vaccines and is expecting more than 21,000 more doses by month’s end, a statement from the government said.

It is anticipated that frontline workers will be vaccinated first, followed by vulnerable persons — those suffering from multiple morbidities and other chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The twin-island federation received its first 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines last week and by the end of this month it is expected to receive an additional 21,600 doses as a result of its participation in the COVID-19 Global Access (Covax) Facility.

In addition,l Taiwan has pledged $600,000 to assist in procuring extra vaccines, while the government of India and other allies have expressed their willingness to donate vaccines.

Prime Minister Timothy Harris said in an address to the nation “these additional donations from multiple sources will enhance our ability to roll out mass vaccination programs.”

He said it is the intention of his government to have at least 70 percent of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

 

Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago State-owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) has recorded an operating loss of US$109.2 million (TT$738 million) for the year ending December 2020.

The airline announced its unaudited financial results last week, attributing the loss to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The operating figure was earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) on revenue of US$118.6 million (TT$802 million).

“This is in stark comparison to 2019, which saw a positive EBIT of US$11.2 million (TT$76 million) on revenue of US$440 million (TT$3 billion) for the 12-month period,” CAL said.

Last October, CAL announced temporary furloughs and salary cuts for staff members and negotiated a US$65 million government-guaranteed loan to keep operations on track.

CAL chief executive officer, Garvin Madera said in spite of the pandemic, and reduced flying the airline managed to add new destinations to our network and expanded our cargo offerings to include charter services. ‘We also provided support through repatriation flights for a number of Caribbean nations and resumed operations in some destinations outside of Trinidad and Tobago where borders are open,” he said.

T&T’s borders were closed since March 22, 2020.

CAL Chairman, Ronnie Mohammed noted that 2020 was the worst year on record for the global travel industry and specifically for aviation.

He said, regrettably Caribbean Airlines was hit hard.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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