Caribbean RoundUp

A traveller has her temperature checked at the Jose Marti International Airport amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 15, 2020.
REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini, file

Barbados

As the region’s tourism industry looks to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has teamed up with one of its allied members to make available practical tools and resources to support tourism industry leaders as they navigate the recovery.

The Barbados-based CTO has partnered with the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism and Studies (GW IITS) to develop a recovery toolkit to provide a useful guide for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises as they plan for their reopening and a dashboard for ministries and destination management organizations to capture and report on key recovery metrics.

“The global pandemic has accelerated the importance of sound digital strategies for destinations and tourism enterprises, consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels, as they have been more isolated and less mobile over the past several months,” said GW IITS Executive Director, Seleni Manus.

The collaboration between CTO and GW IITS is an extension of an engagement with CTWO member countries Belize and Grenada, which saw GWU Master of Tourism Administration and MBA students working with the government and private sector in both countries to produce customized solutions to support COVID recovery.

 

Cuba

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says work to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in Cuba has advanced to the phase three clinical trial stage.

Speaking during a recent COVID-19 digital briefing, PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said Cuban vaccine manufacturers commenced phase three trial activities three weeks ago.

This, he said, included pilot vaccinations involving volunteers, and usually precedes World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualification for wide-scale distribution or emergency use.

Dr. Barbosa said the entity is facilitating communication between the manufacturers and the WHO on developments relating to the pre-qualification arrangements.

He advised that manufacturers are aware of the criteria they must fulfill to secure WHO pre-qualification.

“When they finish phase three clinical trial engagements, based on the results they will have about the vaccine’s security and efficacy, they can apply to receive pre-qualification or emergency use listing,” Dr. Barbosa said.

 

Guyana

A Guyanese journalist has become the latest fatality of COVID-19 in the South American CARICOM country nation.

Namela Baynes-Henry died of COVID-19 recently, just over two weeks after being hospitalized with the virus.

Local media reported that the 63-year-old media worker passed away in the Intensive Care Unit (IC) of the Infectious Disease Hospital where she had been admitted after testing positive for the virus.

According to reports, she suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma. She never regained consciousness.

The Guyana Press Association has extended its sympathy to the Baynes-Henry’s family and loved ones.

Guyana now has 225 deaths from COVID-19 and is set to surpass 10,000 infections. Last week the country recorded more than 237 cases of the virus.

Henry was the founder of the First Look Morning Show and First Look News on Channel Nine. She was also the former personal assistant public relations officer at the Ministry of Legal Affairs. She also worked at the Department of Public Information and the Guyana Chronicle.

The month of March saw the highest number of new infections being recorded since the pandemic was first confirmed a year ago.

Over 1,600 new cases were recorded in March and the death toll has now surged to 237.

 

Grenada

A Jamaican man who entered Grenada recently has been confirmed as the island’s first case of the United Kingdom strain of COVID-19.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Charles said that the Jamaican man, who is in his 20s, arrived on March 8 was tested positive after five days in the country.

He said the man’s sample had a high viral load and was therefore sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad.

The Ministry of Health received confirmed of the strain last week, B117 variant.

He said the person would continue to be in isolation until medically cleared.

Various international studies have established that the UK variant is up to 90 percent more transmissible.

Since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Grenada in March 2020, the island has recorded a total of 155 positive cases. There has been one death so far.

 

Haiti

Four people, including a pastor and a well-known pianist, were recently kidnapped and it all played out live on social media.

The group, members of the Seventh-day Adventist Gospel Kreyol Ministry Church in Diquini on the outskirts of metropolitan Port-au-Prince, were performing live on Facebook and YouTube in a studio adjacent to their church when a heavily armed man walked up to the stage and abducted them.

The incident was confirmed by Dr. Gregory M. Figaro, whose father, Greger Figaro, is the founder of the ministry.

Dr. Figaro said he was present during the incident, which many Haitians initially thought was an April Fool’s joke or poorly acted skit.

The kidnapped individuals included two technicians, Steven Jerome and Francisco Dorival, along with Pastor Audalous Estime and musician Welmyr Jean-Pierre. Two women who were also in the studio managed to escape.

The kidnapping unfolded two hours and 23 minutes into a worship and service titled “15 Days of Thanksgiving and Praise” on Holy Thursday, which is a deeply religious week in Haiti.

Haiti has been rocked by rising violence in recent years, especially by runaway kidnapping-for-ransom incidents which have paralyzed the economy and Haitian society.

 

Jamaica

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States, has urged Americans to avoid traveling to both Jamaica and Bermuda following reports of an increase in cases of the COVID-19 virus.

In the case of Jamaica, the CDC extended the level four status, which means that travelers to the island have very high possibility of contracting COVID-19.

In an update advisory last week, the CDC said because of the current situation in the country, even fully vaccinated persons may be at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.

The CDC said those who must travel to Jamaica should get fully vaccinated and observe COVID-19 prevention measures.

In the case of Bermuda, the CDC also advised against all travel to the island after raising its risk level to “very high” again as COVID-19 cases have continued to soar and two more deaths were recently recorded.

Over the East weekend, Bermuda recorded 69 more positive cases after 3,234 tests were conducted, bringing the total number of active cases to 656.

On March 18, the CDC dropped Bermuda’s risk from Level 3 to Level 2 — “COVID-19 moderate.” It came after the CDC switched Bermuda’s status from Level 4 to 3 on March 1.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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