Caribbean RoundUp

Barbados Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw.
Photo by George Alleyne, file

ANTIGUA

Antigua  Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph says the government should give serious consideration to implementing new policies that would allow for only vaccinated persons to enter the country.
Currently, all travelers must present PCR test within seven days of travel. A proposed reduction to three days with the acceptance of a rapid antigen test for vaccinated travelers is also being suggested by the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association (ABHTA).
He said the time has come for the government to do a thorough evaluation of that, adding that the science is showing that matter should be seriously considered by the government.
His remarks came as the island recorded an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and a call by the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association for the Gaston Browne government to mandate that only vaccinated travelers may enter for stayover vacations.
The ABHTA is proposing that such a mandate for arriving passengers go into effect as of Oct. 1, allowing passengers sufficient notice of any changes to the travel regulations.
There were 222 active cases a week ago with patients ranging from five months old to 82 years old tested positive for COVID-19.
BARBADOS
Barbados has started to roll out of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and over.
Minister of Education, Sanita Bradshaw said following consultations with public health officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and several parent-teacher associations as well as the umbrella body, the National Council for Parent-Teacher Associations, the government was ready to begin the roll-out to teenagers and pre-teens.
The minister said several of the island’s most notable pediatricians have already expressed their full support for the roll-out of the vaccine to teens and pre-teens, with priority given to children with chronic diseases and especially those with special needs.
Bradshaw acknowledged that not everyone would want to have their child vaccinated.
She said public education programs will continue to help the undecided.
Barbados recently received a donation of 700,000 Pfizer doses from the US government.
The Pfizer vaccine will be available to pupils 12 – 18 years at seven cites across the island, but Bradshaw said more centers will be opened in the coming weeks, in phases, in an effort to reach every eligible child.
CARIBBEAN
The International Police (Interpol)  has warned all of its 194 member countries, including the Caribbean, to be on the lookout for organised crime groups attempting to defraud governments with fake offers to sell COVID-19 vaccines.
In its global alert, Interpol said at least 60 cases in 40 countries around the world have been reported where individuals in health ministries and hospitals have received offers for COVID-19 vaccines approved for distribution in their country.
It said scammers — usually claiming to represent a vaccine manufacturer or a government agency facilitating the distribution of vaccines — are targeting both professional and personal e-mail accounts of potential buyers, as well as making contact via phone.
The Interpol alert is based on information provided by vaccine manufacturers and highlights the types of modus operandi used in the attempted scams, including the use of fake social media accounts and websites.
GRENADA
The Grenada Ministry of Health is blaming community spread  for the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
This was revealed by acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Charles, who said that the patterns emerging from the current spike in COVID-19 cases points to this.
Prior to this, Grenada recorded specific clusters of positive cases which were either directly linked to an imported case or a traced contact of  a confirmed case.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show a further 21 persons tested positive for COVID-19 recently. The total number of active cases in Grenada now stands at 128.
Of this amount, eight are imported, while for the remaining cases, the virus was transmitted locally.
Infected persons range from four to 71 and at present, there are more female positive cases than male. As of Sept. 6, there were 12 recorded COVID-19 deaths with seven deaths in a single day up from a total of five.
GUYANA
The Guyana government is seeking to revive the 165 megawatts (MW) Amaila Falls hydro-power project (AFPH) and is hoping to start construction in 2022 with a completion date in 2025.
The former coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in 2019 halted the project that had been started under a People’s Partnership (PPP) administration expressing deep concern about cost, feasibility and other matters.
This opposition to the project had resulted in the main investor, Sithe Global pulling out of the project in August 2013.
A government statement said that the Office of the Prime Minister is looking for a partner to develop the project and has published a request for proposals, which outlines two options for the project’s development.
JAMAICA
Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Richard Byles, has said that Jamaica’s growth outturn for this fiscal year is likely to be higher than previously anticipated. The country’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 11.
Speaking during the bank’s quarter media briefing, the governor said he was considering the stronger than expected improvements in the economies of Jamaica’s main trading partners from the fallout sparked by COVID-19 pandemic.
Bayles said the bank is currently projecting that real GDP growth for the fiscal year will be in the range of 7-10 percent, up from the 5-8 percent that was indicated in May 2021.
Leading indicators, such as GCT (general consumption tax) flows and electricity consumption, pointed to this rebound.
According to Bayles, the key drivers of this rebound are the tourism and related sectors driven by successful vaccination programs.
He also said that the bank anticipates continued strong growth in the construction sector.
ST. LUCIA
Two years after it ceased its scheduled flights to St. Lucia, Virgin Atlantic will return to the island during the 2021 winter season, flying three times a week from London’s Heathrow Airport to Hewanorra International Airport.
Newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Dr. Ernest Hailaire said, “we are grateful for the continued support of our airline partners British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as we opened the country. Virgin Atlantic has been a long supporter and providing connectivity to the UK for many years.'”
The United Kingdom has been St. Lucia’s second largest tourism market and in July, it accounted for eight percent of total arrivals and five percent year-to-date of total stay-over arrivals, tourism officials said.
TRINIDAD
Trinidad majority owned Caribbean Airlines (CAI) has signed an agreement with Megacap SA Limited as it General Sales and Service Agent (GSSA) to facilitate cargo shipments from  several cities in  China.
In a statement, the airline said the agreement took effect  recently and the cargo shipments to the Caribbean will  be facilitated via Megacap’s six hubs including Beijing airport office, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong  and Dalian.
The appointment of Megacap comes at an opportune time, giving freight  forwarders and shippers in China access to the Caribbean with real time, customized logistic  solutions, CAL said.
The airline operates an all-cargo schedule of 14 weekly Boeing 767 flights.
The service facilitates shipments between the carrier’s Miami hub and Trinidad, Kingston, Montego Bay, Guyana and Barbados.
The aircraft also transports on select passenger routes between  Trinidad and New York, Toronto, Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenada and St. Lucia.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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