Caribbean RoundUp

St. Lucia's Prime Minister, Allen Michael Chastanet addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.
Associated Press / Richard Drew, File
ANTIGUA
The Antigua and Barbuda government is offering an 8,000 square foot of land as an inducement to get nationals to get vaccinated as the island moves to curb the spread of Covid-19.
A statement issued after the regular Cabinet meeting said persons must be vaccinated between the period June 7 and June 30.
“Although nearly 35,000 adults have taken the first dose at this time, at least 5,000 additional first doses need to be administered by June 30, 2021, the statement said.
Cabinet agreed that this novel approach towards vaccination is intended to encourage as many adults to quickly vaccinate and to move the country closure towards achieving herd community.
It said that other incentives that have been relied upon to encourage vaccination against Covid-19 will continue, including food, gasoline and gift vouchers.
BAHAMAS
Minister of Health, Renward Wells said the health care system in the Bahamas is in a state of emergency due to the increase of Covid-19 cases.
He said it was imperative that the government responsibly extend the Emergence Powers Order in his contribution to the debate on the resolution to extend the Order.
“We are currently facing a third surge of the Covid-19 in the Bahamas,” according to the national Covid-19 report.
“We continue to record new Covid-19 cases in the country,” he said.
He told legislators in the House that at this point in the third wave the country was seeing Covid-19 infections in the very young and the adolescent population and they were hospitalized.
Wells noted that during the first and second waves, Covid-19 cases among those aged up to nine years represented only one percent of the total cumulative cases for each respective wave.
But Wells said that the same age group now accounts for 106 cases or three per cent of the third wave of Covid-19 cases.
The health minister said that new Covid-19 cases were increasing, hospitalizations were increasing and health worker fatigue is increasing. In addition to these, the ministry reports that the positivity rate is also increasing.
JAMAICA
Jamaica has established a 24-hour dedicated hotline to assist children and teenagers experiencing challenges or who may be feeling overwhelmed with adapting to changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Facility, the Safe Spot National Child and Teen Helpline, is a multi initiative involving the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) Jamaica Office and the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) which will manage it.
The authorities said that the Helpline is intended to provide prompt responses to youngsters concerns by eliminating delays and increasing access to trained professionals when they need it most.
Minister of Education Youth and Information
Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, who endorsed the initiative said the helpline is a “most welcome step,” in strengthening the government heightened trust over the years to develop and implement policies that affect the address the physical, emotional and mental well-being of Jamaica’s children.
She said this has been done through increased funding and amendments to the existing regulations or the introduction of new ones.
SURINAME
The government of Suriname last week announced a total lockdown of the country for just over two weeks in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19.
President Chandrikapersad Santokhi in making the announcement said his administration has promulgated Code Purple, the worst risk level for the pandemic for the entire country and Code Black for the situation in hospitals.
The total lockdown has been issued for the next three weeks starting May 31 to June 18.
The president painted a grim picture of the situation, saying that there was a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, medical staff and health workers.
As of March last year, when Covid-19 first emerged in Suriname, 282 people have died of Covid-19 and May this year has been the deadliest month since the pandemic broke out with 78 deaths.
From May 31st with the exception of essential services, all government offices will be closed and citizens are only allowed to leave home for emergencies, such as for medical reasons.
The President said that the  enforcement of the measures will be tightened and those who violate the measured risk stiff fines and additional penalties.
President Santokhi also noted that the records show that all people who have recently died of Covid-19 had not been vaccinated, he is therefore urging citizens to be vaccinated.
ST. LUCIA
St. Lucia Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet is appealing to young people to move away from gang violence, as the island recorded four murders in two separate incidents during an eight-hour period recently.
He said there is a better way for young people to embrace the opportunities being created in the country and stop the unnecessary killings.
Police have launched an investigation into the murders of two men from the East Coast village of Dennery, in the second double murder within a 24-hour period.
The shootings followed the recent double in the Southern village of Jackmel, in a drive by shooting.
TRINIDAD
Three Caribbean countries have come to the aid of Trinidad and Tobago by donating 34,000 doses of vaccines.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines  gifted  16, 000 AstraZeneca, while 8,000 came from Bermuda and 10.000 from Grenada.
These vaccines will be added to the government’s nationwide vaccine roll out.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Amery Browne that the vaccines from St. Vincent and the Grenadines are set to expire at the end of June. The minister of health has indicated that it would be enough time to get the jabs distributed.
According to regional reports nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines are refusing to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine and this was enough to force St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was inoculated with the Russian vaccine.
Sputnik does not have World Health Organization (WHO) approval.
Browne said there was some vaccine hesitancy, particularly in some of the smaller islands in the region and no island wants to end up with vaccines that would have to be discarded.
Dr. Browne said the receipt of 10,000 vaccines from Grenada is just another symbol of CARICOM diplomacy in action and the generosity of the people of Grenada.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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