The Barbados government has announced that effective May 25, vaccinated travelers to the island will no longer be required to present a negative COVID-19 test for entry.
During a press conference last week, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the government felt comfortable in reconsidering the downward trajectory in cases of COVID-19.
Mottley said she had been advised by the Ministry of Health that all persons who are vaccinated and are coming into Barbados will no longer be required to come in with any kind of test results.” So we are removing testing for vaccinated passengers coming to Barbados. Unvaccinated passengers will still have to test,” she said.
The prime minister said mask-wearing will be optional in outdoor settings.
Concerning mask wearing in schools, she said that remains unchanged.
She, however, stressed that any new variant of the disease presented itself, measures to help combat the infection would be re-introduced.
Commonwealth Secretary General Dame Patricia Scotland, visited St. Kitts and Nevis as part of a wider visit to several Caribbean Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries.
During her visit to the region that ended on May 31, Scotland, who is seeking re-appointment to her position of the 54-member grouping, she will travel to Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia where she will hold bilateral discussions with the leaders of these countries.
Dominica has nominated the Dominican-born Scotland for the post, but she faces opposition from the Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kamina Johnson, who in the past few weeks have visited Europe and Africa lobbying for support.
Belize Prime Minister John Briceno, who is also chairman of the 15-member regional integration grouping, said CARICOM leaders will vote for “a candidate of their choice” when Commonwealth leaders meet for the June 30 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda.
Scotland was elected to the post at the CHOGM in Malta in 2015 becoming the second Secretary General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Sherma Dalrymple has discontinued the case against Indian-born Antigua and Barbuda citizen Mehul Choski, who had been accused of illegally entering the island in May last year.
Choski, 63, who had pleaded not guilty of illegally entering the island, claiming he had been kidnapped in Antigua and taken to Roseau on May 23, 2019, had been released on EC$100,000 bail last July so as to allow him to travel to Antigua and Barbuda for medical attention.
Dalrymple said her decision was in accordance with the provisions of section 72(2)(c) of the constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Choski is also wanted by Indian authorities for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty , including delivery of property, corruption and money laundering..
Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on renewed and enhanced co-operation.
The commitment by the two countries came after a three-day Agri Investment Forum in Guyana which was held between May 19 and 21.
The agreement seeks to address partnership in areas of trade and investment including non tariff barriers, agriculture and food security, energy, infrastructure, security, education, tourism, sports and culture, the aim of developing strategic co-operation and partnerships for both countries.
Oversight of the execution of the MoU would be under a newly established bilateral commission which comprised of both the public and private sectors.
President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali and both foreign affairs ministers signed the MoU, which was followed by a media briefing.
Dr. Keith Rowley said the agreement showed that CARICOM could seek and find solutions to its many problems especially in agriculture which was left vulnerable during the pandemic.
He called on the private sector to focus their investments in areas of food supply, processing and distribution.
The Paris -based international, independent medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Medicns Sans Frontieres (MSF) has expressed concern over the temporary closure of several hospitals in Haiti due to the kidnapping of doctors in recent times.
The health officials were being abducted as Haitian authorities are dealing with an increase in armed clashes between rival gangs in the French speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
“We are very concerned about the unacceptable situation of insecurity affecting our colleagues in Haiti’s medical community,” Dr. Samson Frandy, medical manager of MSFs Turgeau emergency center.
“The effects on the already weak health care are enormous and the situation is putting a pressure on our centre, which is hard to bear. Kidnappings for ransom target many residents of Port-au-Prince, including medical personnel are making increasingly difficult for the population to access health health care,” he said in a statement.
At least four hospitals have been temporarily closed in support of kidnapped doctors, and many patients from these centers are referred to the MSF emergency center in Turgean, which is overwhelmed by the situation.
The MSF said that the closure have worsened an already difficult situation in a country where access to care is problematic for the majority of the people.
Jamaica has recorded 534 murders as of May 14 representing a 4.1 increase when compared to the 513 murders recorded for the same period last year.
The island recorded 1,463 murders in 2021.
Figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JFC) Periodic Crime Statistics Review showed that the most murders were committed in the St. James Police Division where 92 murders were being investigated, up from 61 murders last year.
Westmoreland, the western most parish of the island recorded 36 murders since the start of the new year, while St. Catherine North is third with 48 murders.
The JFC reported that while St. Andrew South recorded 41 murders, the figure represents a 43.1 decrease in homicide when compared to 72 cases reported last year but the figures show that St. Mary, north east of the the capital had the highest percentage increase in murders with a 500 percent rise. There were 18 murders committed in the parish up to May 14, compared with three for the corresponding period in 2021.
The Kingston Central Police Division, where a zone of special operations (ZOSO) is under effects in Paradise Gardens, recorded 15 murders a decrease of 44.4 percent for the reporting period.
Overall, the JFC said the total number of serious and violent crimes committed so far for this year has declined by three percent.
Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Ramdin said after two years of diplomatic relations between Suriname and the United States, it is time for a strategic partnership between both countries.
Speaking during a recent bilateral dialogue with a delegation from the United States, Ramdin said the talks were “useful” and were held at a time when global and regional developments are taking place.
In referring to the situation in Eastern Europe, which shows that Europe is heavily dependent on energy from Russia, he said the partnership is needed to reduce the risks of energy supply.
“Energy is critical in our future relationship with the United States,” he said.
Also attending the meeting were US Ambassador Karen Williams and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Barbara Feinstein.
In her comment, Feinstein said the relationship between the US and Suriname was “closer than ever.” She also said Washington is looking forward to deepening co-operation in the context of Suriname’s chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in a few weeks.
The diplomat told reporters that the representatives discussed the progress made in bilateral co-operation, including humanitarian aid trade relations, exchange programs, security and judicial co-operation as well as diplomatic engagement.
—Compiled by Azad Ali