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An elderly woman suffering cholera symptoms is carried on a stretcher as she arrives to the Doctors Without Borders temporary hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Caribbean

British tourists are being warned of the dangers of the chikunguyana virus that is sweeping the Caribbean.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, “British tourists in the Caribbean are being struck down by a debilitating and potential deadly virus carried by mosquitoes.

An unprecedented outbreak of the chickunguyana virus is affecting several Caribbean islands, including Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines where many UK holiday tourist flock during the festive season, the newspaper said.

It said thousands have been hit by the illness that leaves victims bedridden for days and the “more vulnerable victims have died.”

British tourists and expats are among hundreds of thousands of cases reported since the outbreak last year.

Chickunguyana, which is contracted through mosquito bites, causes a sudden onset of fever, and agonizing joint pain, particularly affecting the hands, wrists, ankles and feet.

Antigua

Chairman of the shareholder’s governments of the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says while he is unaware of the details regarding any possible retrenchment of employees, the airline needs to deal with its high cost of operations.

Recently, the troubled airline described as “speculation” media reports it was planning to trim its workforce by sending home as many as 200 employees.

The Observer Newspaper in Antigua reported the airline, which is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, would send home the workers as it moves to improve its financial stability.

Gonsalves, who is also Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said he is aware of plans to streamline the operations of the airline as to ensure “that LIAT be placed on a sounder commercial competitive footing.”

But he said he wanted to make it clear LIAT has explained on numerous occasions the need to cut the high costs of its operations, including salary, fuel, repairs and lease arrangements.

Barbados

Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite is giving the public the assurance that crime in Barbados is on the decline, dropping by 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

He said as of Nove. 22, 2014, there were 6,526 reported cases of crime in the country compared to 7,893 cases for the same period last year.

The AG said to date, there were 22 homicides, compared to 23 in 2013. Of the 22 homicides reported, 18 persons have been charged and brought before the law courts of the country.

Turning to crime against visitors, the home affairs minister said to date, 239 reports were received between January and November, compared to 251 last year.

He explained that the most prevalent form of crime against visitors included theft from accommodation, those totaled 106 cases; 19 cases of theft from the persons and 16 of robbery.

Guyana

The Guyana government recently announced salary increases for public servants and members of the Disciplined Forces.

A statement from the Office of President Donald Ramotar said more than 20,000 public servants and members of the Discipline Forces would receive salary increase ranging from five to eight percent as of Dec. 31, 2013, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014.

“In keeping with the government of Guyana’s commitment to provide these increases, public servants and members of the Discipline Forces earning above Guy$50,000 (Guy$1=US$0.004) monthly wages and salaries as of Dec. 31, 2014, are being granted and across the board increase of five percent; while those earning less than Guy$50,000 monthly as of Dec. 31, 2013, would be receiving eight percent across the board increase, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014.

Teachers earning less than Guy$50,000 monthly as at Dec. 31, 2013, are being granted an additional three percent increase across the board.

Haiti

The international medical group, Doctors Without Borders is reporting an increase in cholera cases in Haiti in recent weeks.

Oliver Schulz, head of the group’s Haiti mission, said more than 2,000 people with symptoms of the disease were in need of emergency hospitalization since mid-October.

He said compared to the same period in 2013, the number of cases treated by Doctors Without Borders has almost doubled.

In a statement, the group said Haiti’s health system “is still facing shortages of funding, human resources and drugs,” and authorities are displaying a “lack of preparation for outbreaks that are known and foreseeable.”

Cholera cases become particularly bad during rainy months, aggravated by a scarcity of sanitation and clean water in many areas. It is most often spread through the consumption of contaminated drinking water or food.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti surfaced in October 2010.

St. Lucia

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says the St. Lucia economy is beginning to turn around and the country should return to positive growth by the next financial year.

Anthony, addressing a recent conference of the ruling St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) said there is no doubt that the one issue that transcends all other issues and “that is on the mind of every citizen is the state of the economy.”

“We inherited a broken economy from the United Workers Party (UWP). Our job is to fix it,” Anthony said, telling supporters there is light at the end of the tunnel and “we are right on track.”

He said negative growth has now decelerated “and I believe that we will see a return to positive growth next financial year.”

Dr. Anthony said that airlift from key source markets increased significantly over the past year, with the United States in particular growing by 11 percent between 2012 and 2013. Additional airlift came from new gateways in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

The SLP leader said that foreign investors were now returning to St. Lucia.

Anthony said that the main opposition UWP does not have the answers to the situation confronting the island with party officials indicating that should they win the next general election there would be a reduction in the Value Added Tax (VAT).

He warned that a reduction as small as one percent would result in the loss of revenue of approximately EC$21.5 million.

Suriname

The gay rights group, Suriname Men United (SMU), is taking issue with a song by a local entertainer that calls for “bullets for homos.”

“It is horrific that Surinamese artistes, in this particular case, King Koyeba, use these types of lyrics. This brings us back to when our community fought against the Jamaican artistes who were singing homophobic lyrics,” said SMU’s Kenneth van Emden.

Koybea, the self-proclaimed Surinamese King of Dancehall recently launched his latest CD with the song “Bullet” a few weeks ago.

In the video, available on social media, Koybea blatantly calls for violence against gay people.

Trinidad

A British couple is moving to sue the Trinidad and Tobago government for £2 million (US$3 million), five years after a brutal machete attack on them in the Sister Isle Tobago.

In August 2009, Peter Green and his wife, Murium were chopped and left for dead. They survived, barely, with permanent injuries.

Green, 70, a retired hotelier suffered a cracked skull, fractured cheekbones, smashed teeth, limited vision after the knife cut his left cornea and nerve damage.

Murium, who has multiple sclerosis, had both cheekbones and eye sockets smashed and her jaw detached.

— compiled by Azad Ali

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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