Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Photo by George Alleyne

Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley announced last week new protocols for visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 that will allow them a shorter period for quarantine.

Under the new provisions, which will take effect on May 8, vaccinated visitors would be allowed to leave a quarantine facility once they return a negative PCR test, while unvaccinated travelers will have to remain in quarantine for seven days.

Mottley explained that a vaccinated person is identified as that person, who, in in a two dose regime had received both doses plus 14 days; or a one dose regime, one dose plus 14 days.

She said in essence, it still requires that even though you are vaccinated that you can come to the island with a PCR test that is negative within the last 72 hours and that upon arrival in the country or the morning after that you will do a PCR test, whether it is a rapid test or classic PCR test, and that you will have limited movement within the hotel, if you are staying at a government facility.

The prime minister said protocols would continue to be reviewed and a monitoring committee would be established to ensure they are working effectively.

Mottley told the same press conference that from April 11, there would be an ease in restrictions for residents, while new Covid-19 cases continuing to drop.

 

Bahamas

A 21-year-old mother of two was jailed for six months in prison after she presented a false doctor’s hospital COVID-19 result when she attempted to travel two weeks ago.

The court heard that Jasmine Pyfrom knowingly presented the COVID-19 result on April 7 that was not genuine.

Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans was told that Pyfrom presented the test bearing her name on an IPhone XR to a government ambassador.

The ambassador then examined the document and compared it and found it to be fraudulent.

The police were contacted and the accused was cautioned and arrested.

Later, she admitted to taking the test but received the document from her stepfather.

She pleaded guilty to the charges of possession and uttering a forged document.

She told the court she had taken the test, but the results had expired.

In passing sentence, the magistrate said the court took this into consideration, but noted the “extreme seriousness of the charges” and the possible effect.

 

Caribbean

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has expressed concern about the challenges facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as the La Soufriere volcano continues to erupt.

In a statement last week, the CDB said it joins with the regional and international community in expressing its solidarity and best wishes to the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The regional institution said the first tier will involve supporting the regional response mechanism through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The second tier will entail the provision of funds to assist with urgent needs at the national level.

CDB is maintaining active lines of communications with the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The statement said the response will be tailored by the immediate support requested by the government and the damage assessment.

It added that the trained community emergency response teams, have been activated and community emergency plans, hazard maps and evacuation routes developed under the project have been rolled out.

This has assisted with the evacuation of vulnerable persons and the mobilization of transportation resources, supplies and equipment to facilitate safe movement to designated shelters in the green zone.

 

Grenada

Grenada’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, Michael Francois said that lawmen would be looking out for criminals who may try to take advantage of the movement of evacuees from volcano-affected St. Vincent to engage in illegal activities in the two-island’s maritime space.

He also made an appeal to Grenadians to be vigilant as well.

Grenada is among Caribbean countries that have offered to take in people evacuated from the danger zone near the La Soufriere volcano, which erupted recently.

Francois acknowledged the possibility of criminals using humanitarian gesture as cover to conduct illegal transactions, such as drug smuggling.

He said there would, therefore be increased monitoring of Grenada’s coastlines by immigration, drug squad and other law enforcement officers.

 

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness said there have been no reports of blood clots in persons who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.

The European Medicine Agency said recently that it had found a “possible link” between shots and the rare clots.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine and any restrictions are closely watched since the vaccine shots.

Amid concerns, Jamaica will continue to administer the vaccine, the CMO said.

It was disclosed that as of April 7, some 47,728 persons have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This represents 96 percent of the target population for the first month of the vaccination program.

And in Barbados, as complications continue to unfold with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the latest being confirmation from the European drug regulators of a linkage between the shot and rare blood clots.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George is standing by the safety of the jab developed by the UK-based pharmaceutical company.

 

St. Vincent

The World Bank has approved US$20 million to support the St. Vincent and the Grenadines government as it responds to the crisis posed by the La Soufriere volcano eruption on the Caribbean island.

The explosive eruption began recently and has required the evacuation of 20,000 people from the high-risk zones around the volcano, both to other parts of the island and surrounding countries.

Explosions are continuing, and falling ash is causing air quality concerns and interruptions in electricity and water supply.

“Our hearts are with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines during this crisis. We are committed to supporting the response efforts at this critical time when the country faces this new disaster while already managing the social and economic effects of the pandemic,” said Tasheen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

The Washington-based financial institution said that the funds are being disbursed from a contingent credit line known as the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO) approved in June 2020. The Cat-DDO instrument is designed to provide immediate liquidity to support a country’s efforts to recover from disasters triggered by natural hazards or a public health emergency.

 

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has taken a decision to revert to lockdown measures, which have been implemented at the beginning of the Covida-19 pandemic.

Within a month, the number of new COVID-19 cases has been increasing prompting the government to take these measures, including, closure of all beaches, public gathering reduced to no more than five persons and in-house dining no longer allowed at restaurants, bars and cinemas as of midnight last Thursday.

The decision was announced by Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh on Thursday as he noted that 70 new cases, then the highest number in weeks, had been recorded.

The following day, however, 85 new cases were reported, setting a new record of daily reported cases since early March when the numbers had come down slightly.

As of Monday, April 16, the Ministry of Health reported 134 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of active aces to 847 cases with 153 deaths.

Speaking at a press conference, Deyalsingh recalled that there had been between three and seven new cases reported daily in the first week of March.

This has now increased to an average of 42 cases being reported daily in the month of April.

Additionally, he said hospital occupancy rates have also increased significantly.

The ministry is now expecting a further surge in cases following the Easter celebrations.

Deyalsingh said the measures announced last week would be enforced for a period of three weeks which began on Thursday night (April 15).

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 while in the sister island, Tobago for the Easter. Last week he was tested positive for a second time and remains in quarantine in Tobago.

— Compiled by Azad Ali

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