Caribbean tourism and health stakeholders forge alliance to safeguard visitors and residents from COVID-19


Caribbean tourism and health stakeholders forge alliance to safeguard visitors and residents from COVID-19

Friday, March 06, 2020

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In an effort to implement readiness and response measures to prevent and contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within the region, leaders of the Caribbean tourism and health sectors have established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force (CCTTF).

The task force is comprised of representatives from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC).

In a statement issued by the leaders of the task force member organisations, a memorandum of understanding has been agreed upon by the organizations to foster closer collaboration.

The CCTTF will focus on raising awareness and sharing accurate information, strengthening monitoring at airports, seaports, hotels, and accommodations; improving coordination among stakeholder organisations and locally between tourism and health officials; sharing best practices, training, education and capacity-building; and conducting tourism impact research.

Dr Lisa Indar, CARPHA assistant director for the Surveillance, Disease prevention and Control Division, explained that the organisations had already collaborated, but in view of the spread of the virus in other regions, CARPHA and other task force organisations wanted to proactively solidify cooperation and ensure the task force had what it needed to keep COVID-19 from threatening the health of residents and visitors and the economies of the Caribbean.

The establishment of the CCTTF follows a Special Emergency Meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government with health and tourism officials and cruise associations in Barbados last weekend, where they agreed to set up a regional protocol with the cruise industry.

As an immediate proactive measure to help fight the importation and spread of this novel viral illness, the CCTTF is urging hotel and tourism accommodation providers to register for CARPHA's Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which was developed several years ago to provide support information, and to help identify and confidentially manage early warning symptoms by employees and guests in a rapid manner.

CARPHA advises residents and visitors that the best preventative measures are individual ones they can take by exercising hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, social distancing (staying one metre away from persons with flu) as well as avoiding eating raw and undercooked meats.

Last week, CARPHA had upgraded the risk of COVID-19 transmission from “low” to “moderate to high”, and on Sunday last, health officials in the Dominican Republic reported the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the country.

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