PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says the decision to impose entry requirements belongs to the national authorities as several regional countries have joined those across the world in implementing more stringent measures for travellers as a result of the discovery of a new variant of the novel coronavirus.
“It should be based on the country's capacities for border surveillance, community surveillance, testing capacity, and the ability of the health services to cope with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19 infection and the long-lasting effects,” said CARPHA's Executive Director Dr Joy St John as she responded to countries imposing even travel bans as part of their plan to combat the latest novel coronavirus variant Omicron.
Reports indicate that Omicron has been detected in more than 40 countries and CARPHA said it acknowledges that the Omicron variant has been rapidly spreading to and within these countries. There is also concern about the suggested ability of an individual to contract Omicron repeatedly.
The Caribbean has not reported any case of the Omicron variant.
Dr St John said that it is still unclear as to whether Omicron can cause significant levels of severe disease or, if similarly to other variants, it is more likely to cause severe disease in people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension and their risk factors, including obesity and cigarette smoking.
CARPHA said it has taken note that the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, which are important source markets for regional tourism, have all made viral testing mandatory for travel into their countries.
The US announced over the last weekend that the test result cannot be obtained longer than 24 hours before travel.
“This new testing time frame will apply to everyone “regardless of nationality or vaccination status”, said the White House, noting also that documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days is also accepted.