The Antigua and Barbuda government has begun the COVID-19 vaccination process for frontline workers in the tourism industry.
More than 2,000 hospitality professionals across the twin-island nation, including hotel workers, tour operators, restaurant and retail employees were recently vaccinated.
Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer, Colin James said, “The continued health and safety of our tourism workers remain a priority for us as we welcome visitors safety to our destination and prepare for a strong tourism rebound when travel restrictions ease within the next few months in our key source markets.”
Additionally, 473 persons from the airline community recently received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the VC Bird International Airport.
Scores of Barbadians took advantage of the walk-in COVID-19 vaccination centers at St. Paul’s Primary School and the Barbados Landship Dock in St. Michael.
However, coordinator of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand said they would be refocusing their efforts on reducing the backlog of appointments.
“We had to suspend the appointment system because we wanted to clear the backlog and be up-to-date, so we will be introducing a new appointment system within a week or two. And next week we will be concentrating on those who registered already but have not had their vaccines,” she said.
Coordinator of the campaign, Major David Clarke of the Barbados Defense Force said the areas were chosen after the Ministry of Health carried out intense COVID-19 testing.
He said the Ministry of Health had identified the areas that should be used as vaccination sites.
Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean fell by 65.5 percent in 2020 according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), but it is forecasting a turnaround this year.
In a statement recently released, the CTO said the impact of COVID – 19 on the travel and tourism industry was particularly evident during the period of April to mid-June, when there was literally no activity in some destination.
“This was characterized by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines,” the statement said.
It said cruise lines plying Caribbean routes remain non-operational owing to a strict ban imposed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CTO noted that with government restrictions both in the Caribbean and globally, reducing and, in many cases, preventing travel for large periods of time, tourists arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a decline of 65.5 percent compared to the record 32 million tourist visits in 2019.
The organization said a period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March, and the second quarter was the worst performing with arrivals down by 97.3 percent. Tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to re-open.
President Irfaan Ali said Guyana should receive 5,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik 5 COVID-19 vaccine shortly. This, he said, would directly come from Moscow.
In an address to the nation on the situation with Covid-19 vaccines, Ali said discussions have been held with Moscow on the supply of 300,000 doses but supply chain matters are a problem.
He also announced that discussions have been held with a group in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the supply of 200,000 doses of the Sputnik 5 vaccine and 50,000 doses could be delivered in about two weeks time and similar tranches in the ensuing fortnights until the supply figure is met.
The President said Guyana had been promised 108,000 Covid vaccine doses from the World Health Organization’s COVAX mechanism in the first quarter of the year but there had been no word from the organization on this supply.
Ali said discussions have also been initiated with China’s Sinopharm for 200,000 does and India for 400,000 doses of its indigenously developed vaccine, Covaxin.
He said there have also been discussions with the African Union platform.
President Jovenel Moise has asked the Organization of American States (OAS) for assistance to deal with the security crisis in Haiti, days after the death of four police officers in a botched raid.
Moise asked for the help when he met with OAS Secretary General Luis Almargo to discuss security.
The president said during their discussions he asked the organization for technical support for the National Police of Haiti (PNH) in order to fight effectively against banditry and terrorism.
The discussions came on the same day an extraordinary Council of Ministers met at the National Palace and adopted a decree to devise state of emergency legislation to give the Supreme Council of the National Police the means to combat banditry and crime, and to empower the PNH and the Armed Forces of Haiti to work in synergy to combat insecurity.
A government statement said this decree allows the competent authorities to mobilize any external support necessary for the achievement of their mission.
Jamaica bas become the first country in the Caribbean to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.
This is according to the Pan American Health Organization (AHO) in a statement, which noted 15 Caribbean countries would receive just over 2.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX by May, including Trinidad and Tobago.
It said Jamaica recently received 14,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
PAHO said the delivery was part of the first phase of deliveries for Jamaica and more vaccines are expected to arrive during the year.
According to the first round of COVAX allocation, Jamaica is expected to continue receiving doses through May until it reaches 124,800, the amount specified by COVAX.
PAHO noted since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Jamaica, the country has recorded 31,305 confirmed cases and 492 deaths as a result of SARS-CoV2 virus, according to official date from the country
Trinidad and Tobago High Court Judge Althea Alexis-Windsor took the oath of office virtually earlier this month as a judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
She was endorsed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states last December to serve as an ICC judge for 2021-2030.
Justice Alexis-Windsor has more than 25 years of experience in the field of criminal law, including international criminal law, and served as a trial attorney and appeals counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.
The ICC’s Advisory Committee on the Nomination of Judges, in its assessment of Justice Alexis-Windsor, had said that based on both her professional experience and her answers during the interview, it had concluded she was “highly qualified for appointment as judge of the International Criminal Court.”
As Justice Alexis-Windsor began her term as an ICC judge, the term of Trinidadian Geoff Henderson ended.
Henderson was elected in November 2013 to fill a vacancy resulting from the March 18, 3013, resignation of Justice Anthony Carmona, who was appointed president of Trinidad and Tobago.
— Compiled by Azad Ali