The Bahamas government is closely monitoring the situation in the United Kingdom following reports of a virulent strain of the coronavirus emerging in that country.
According to Minister for Health and Wellness, Renward Wells there is no immediate plans to impose a travel ban against the UK, but currently, there are no direct flights from the UK to the Bahamas.
He said those are expected to start in February and are currently being observed adding, “we are seeking to ensure that we maintain the health protocols that we have in place that anyone who’s coming into the country has to be able to take the RT-PCR test before they come in, so we’re seeking to deal with this particular strain at the borders.”
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has called for support for the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) proposal to put on front-of-package nutritional warnings on food products, which have been shown to help people make healthier dietary choices.
The labeling allows consumers to correctly, quickly and easily identify foods that are excessive in fats, sugar, sodium (salt) — all of which are linked to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The CROSQ proposal, which is under review by CARICOM Member States, suggests adopting front-of-packaging labeling that meets PAHO thresholds of excessive fats, sugar and sodium.
Director of PAHO’s Department of Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Anselm Hennis said, “in the Caribbean about one third of the population is at such a risk, they must be extra careful to avoid products excessive in sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fat or total fats.”
Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos House of Assembly was dissolved last week, paving the way for general election by March 2021.
Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson in making the announcement said that she had advised the territory’s governor to dissolve the House immediately.
She said: “Our legislative work has been done, and so the people will get to decide on who will form the next legislature.”
The premier, who was speaking at the end of the year press conference, said the people of the Turks and Caicos will get to decide their government by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
General elections were last held in this British Overseas territory on Dec. 15, 2016.
The result was a victory for the People’s Democratic Movement led by Cartwright-Robinson who became the island’s first female premier.
EXXONMOBIL Guyana is celebrating its first year of oil production from the Liza field offshore.
Last month, the Liza Destiny Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel reached capacity of 120,000 barrels of oil per day and successfully commissioned the gas injection system.
The company began production less than five years after the first discovery of hydrocarbon, which is well ahead of the industry average for deep water developments.
ExxonMobil Guyana President, Alistar Routledge said, “we are incredibly proud of the tremendous work our team has done in overcoming the challenges of the past year and safely bringing us to where we are today.”
He said in a statement: This resilient group, which includes a growing number of Guyanese professionals, continues to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic and initial startup challenges to deliver a world-class project.”
More than 6,000 persons have been transferred offshore without a safety incident or case of COVID-19 on the offshore facilities. Overall, the Liza Destiny IPSO team has achieved one year and more than one million hours of work without a recordable safety incident.
ExxonMobil and its key contractors have spent one million more than GUY$69 billion with more than 700 local companies since 2015.
Health officials in Grenada have expressed concern that seven tourists, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, recently left the island without receiving medical clearance to do so.
Health officials disclosed that the nine visitors, all of whom stayed at the Sandals Resort, tested positive.
The resort which is located in close proximity to the Maurice Bishop International Airport was identified as the location for a cluster of positive cases involving guests and employees.
However, the Ministry of Health issued a statement informing the public that only two guests who tested positive are currently at the resort- which has since stopped admitting new guests.
The number of positive cases currently on the island is now 128 as of the last update on Dec. 28 but no deaths. Since then one death has been recorded of a Grenadian national who returned from the USA with his wife for the Christmas holidays.
The Government Information Service said the seven guests at Sandals who were tested positive have since left the island. They did so before the results were obtained.
Grenada has recorded 128 positive cases of COVID-19 since the first was confirmed in March 2019.
Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine has said the currency in the sub region, remains “very strong” amid the economic fallout from the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In his Christmas message, Antoine pointed to the currency’s strength and highlighted it among “many achievements” for which the ECCB can be justifiably proud of.
He said the EC dollar remains very strong. Its current backing in reserves is 97 percent noting that the bank recorded its highest ever-$63.1 million.
However, the ECCB governor said the currency union is experiencing its largest shock, on record.
Antoine said there is a projected decline of 16.2 percent this year.
He said despite the economic and financial fallout occasioned by the pandemic, countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) have responded relatively well.
It is projected that the ECCU will grow by five percent this year, as tourism, the dominant export, slowly recovers, he said.
Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley has said that stiffer penalties will be coming in 2021 for individuals found to be encouraging the illegal entry into Trinidad and Tobago of Venezuelan migrants.
Speaking at a recent Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Center, Port of Spain, Rowley said, “you are going to see new and firmer laws for persons who encourage the illegal trade and stiffer penalties for human trafficking.”
Dr. Rowley spoke days after a boat loaded with more than 30 illegal Venezuelans drowned off Venezuela while heading for Trinidad.
He said Venezuelans are being encouraged to leave Venezuela for their circumstances, being encouraged to come to Trinidad by persons who believe they are doing good.
However, he explained that while the Venezuelan authorities had charged six Venezuelans as “human traffickers and mafia,” the T&T media had wrongly scolded him by claiming he had referred to migrants as traffickers.
Rowley said he must ensure T&T does not become a refugee camp.
He said the Venezuelan migrant cards were due to last until Dec. 1, but as of Jan. 1, 2021, will be given a six-month renewal.
— Compiled by Azad Ali