Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean

Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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St Lucia PM tested for coronavirus

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is awaiting results after he was tested for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The brief statement, yesterday, said that Chastanet, “was as of this morning feeling unwell and in accordance with the established protocols went into self-quarantine”.

It said he immediately “stayed away from all of his meetings and engagement” and that, “in keeping with the protocols as advised by the chief medical officer”, he has been tested for COVID-19 “and we await the results.

“As soon as the results are available, the public will be informed,” the statement said.

On Monday night, Chastanet addressed the nation on the virus that has so far killed more than 6,000 people across the globe, flanked by members of his Cabinet.


Barbados records case of coronavirus

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados Government yesterday confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19 and appealed to nationals not to panic but follow the measures outlined so as to prevent its spread.

Health and Wellness Minister Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic, in an address to the nation, said that the two cases were “imported” from the United States earlier this month and included a national.

“Barbados has recorded its first two cases of COVID-19. A 48-year-old visitor to the island and a 39-year-old Barbadian female, both of whom came into the island from the United States. After experiencing symptoms they were referred to the medical team at the Ministry of Health and Wellness for further evaluation,” he said in the broadcast without disclosing the date of their arrival nor the aircraft used.

Bostic said that laboratory confirmed earlier on Tuesday that the tests were positive.

“They will remain in isolation until they recover. As minister of health and wellness in Barbados, I am committed to doing all in my power to protect the health and ensure the safety of every person resident here,” he said.

Barbados joins Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and The Bahamas where cases of the virus have been reported in recent days.


Guyana shuts down international airports, bans self-quarantines

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Guyana, the only Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to have recorded a fatal COVID-19 case, yesterday announced the closure of its international airports as well as a ban on self-imposed quarantine as it deals with the impact of the virus that has killed more than 6,000 people worldwide.

Director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA), Egbert Field, told a news conference that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri and the Eugene Correia Airport at Ogle would be closed to to all international flights for 14 days.

Field said the closures will take effect from Wednesday at midnight and that the only exceptions will be cargo flights, planes that have to make technical stops and special authorised flights.

He told reporters that while local air travel will still be allowed they would be closely monitored and that the CCA has been working closely with the Ministry of Public Health on the issue.


Gov't and Opposition in Belize close ranks on coronavirus

BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) — Government and Opposition closed ranks in the battle against the coronavirus as Belize announced a series of measures, including the closure of all borders of entry in Belize as well as limiting all social gatherings to no more than 100 people.

“I want to thank the leader of the Opposition, thank the People's United Party, for agreeing to come together with us to deal with what we dare say is the greatest crisis this country has faced in a generation,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow told a joint news conference.

“Perhaps I should say my generation, which is a little longer extending backward than some of you… For me, certainly I think, Mr Leader, this is one of the most frightening, most troubling of crises that we have faced,” Barrow said, adding, “So sir, I salute you, I salute your party and it is a matter of the greatest satisfaction to me that we are coming together to show the Belizean people that in times of difficulty we are one. Thank you very much, indeed”.

Opposition Leader John Briceño, who read out the measures agreed upon by the parties, said that there would be a postponement of the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) census until next year and that some of the resources already allocated for the census will be used to collect data associated with COVID-19.

He said all schools will be closed effective Friday, for 14 days, which will lead right into the Easter break, adding, “this is being done with a view to make up for the school days within the current school year, depending on how the situation evolves.

“It is stressed that this is not a vacation. Parents and students alike must follow the Government's advisory for social distancing and good hygiene practices,” Briceño said, adding that it was agreed to limit all social gatherings, both indoor and outdoor events, to no more than 100 people.


Dominicans stranded in French Caribbean islands as France cuts off borders

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Dominican authorities were scrambling yesterday to bring home hundreds of nationals left stranded in the French Caribbean islands after French President Emmanuel Macron announced a closure of external borders in an attempt to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As of noon, external borders of the European Union and the Schengen area will be closed,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation, adding that “all travel between non-EU countries and the European Union will be suspended for 30 days”.

“We need to be able to protect ourselves and curb the spread of this virus,” Macron said on Monday night after cases in France reached 6,633.

The announcement by Macron has led to the cancellation of the daily ferry service between Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and St Lucia.

The operators of Val Ferry, which is providing transportation between the French Antilles and Dominica and St Lucia, said the efforts now are to get passengers out of the various islands back to the their homeland.

Leroy Charles said that for Val Ferry, the priority also is to save lives as a result of the COVID-19.

“No monetary gain can come from it. Whatever the impact is for Val Ferry, the most important thing that we are saving lives and, in light of this pandemic, we have absolutely no problem with moving ahead with what the president of France decided to close the borders.

“So it will impact the hucksters, the hospitality sector, even the government in terms of departure taxes, the diaspora, but the overall mission is to actually get people safe. We are concerned about Dominicans that are stuck in the French Antilles… and how are we going to get them back home because people move across to the French Antilles every week”.

He said Val Ferry have suspended all calls to Dominica with “immediate effect” and in order to deal with getting Dominicans back home, “we may have to deal with that at a higher level”.

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