Caribbean RoundUp

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
Associated Press/Kevin Hagen, File
Head of  CARICOM, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne said that more attention needed to be placed on intra-regional travel, as it is a multi-billion, underutilized industry
He said “while we look exclusively to foreign trade and tourists coming from abroad, there are significant amounts of intra-regional citizens and residents contributing to a vibrant, intra-regional travel industry,” he said.
Browne said intra-regional travel will also help the Caribbean region.
During his inaugural speech recently at CARICOM, Browne called for the removal of inter-island travel bans.
Barbados has announced a travel bubble that excluded islands with high COVID-19 infections and Browne is seeking to end that type of discrimination within the Caribbean.
Barbadians are urged to take advantage of investment opportunities on the stock markets in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, where trading is more vibrant.
Delivering the second quarterly CARICOM Investment Report for this year, Professor Justin Robinson, director of the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management, expressed disappointment that individuals in Barbados and other Eastern Caribbean islands were not engaging in cross border trade on regional stock exchanges.
He said there are opportunities to place “your money within our region and earn quite solid returns, and remind you these are returns in US dollars.”s
The CARICOM Investment Report on the region’s six stock exchanges, forms part of the thrust of the Cave Hill School of Business to zoom in on private sector investment and performance in the region and encourage greater buying and selling of shares.
Robinson said he believed greater awareness among residents across the region could serve as a catalyst in removing the regulatory and other barriers that affect people’s ability to move money across the region.
The government of Haiti recently received 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated  by the United States through the COVAX facility.
The country is the fourth in the region to receive these donated shipments, after Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia with a total of 4,008,000 doses delivered so far.
Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne said the arrival of these vaccines is quite promising and now the challenge is to get them to the people that need them the most.
The donation is part of the US government’s plan to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage in other countries around the world, counter new waves of infection, and prioritize vaccination of health care workers and other vulnerable populations in neighbouring countries in need of vaccines.
The US government has pledged to donate some 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Jamaica has recorded no cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 that is blamed for a new wave of deaths and infections globally.
This is according to Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton who said the ministry has arranged for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the US-based Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC)  and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) to test samples for any mutations that would pose a concern.
He said recently health officials reported to Cabinet on tests they had received from testing late the previous week.
Tufton said there was a worrying trend of Jamaicans seeking medical help too late for COVID-19, resulting in increased deaths.
Recently, health authorities reported 1,140 deaths so far. There are 5,278 active cases on the island.
Former Chief Minister of Montserrat, David Brandt was sentenced to 15 months in jail after he had earlier been found guilty on six counts of sexual exploitation and one count of perverting the course of justice.
The court had set sentencing for July 14 for Brandt who had originally been charged with seven sexual exploitation charges, but the jury could not reach a verdict on the first count. He had been remanded into custody since the end of the trial on June 30.
The case against the prominent attorney dates back to Sept. 18, 2015 when Brandt was initially arrested and charged with one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 2010.
In 2015, he was charged with conspiracy to have sex with a minor, due to developments that took place between April and September 2015.
Brandt has always maintained his innocence saying the allegations against him were false.
But in November 2018, Brandt, who served as chief minister from 1997 to 2001, was taken into custody by local police assisted by members of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency and several charges were laid against him, including two counts of child sexual exploitation and one count of perverting the course of justice.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said that public health workers who were not willing to take a vaccine to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 will be required to test regularly to prove their status.
In addition, he said they would have to meet the cost of the test.
The government has said unvaccinated public sector workers must take a COVID-19 test at least once every two weeks. The first test will be provided free of cost and after that, the workers would be expected pay the EC$26 for each of the other tests.
Gonsalves told radio listeners he was aware of a hotel construction site with 170 employees that had closed for a week after two workers tested positive for COVID-19.
He said 20 percent of the people in the country have taken the vaccine.
The prime minister said there were about 50,000 workers in the country and assuming that 10,000 of them had been vaccinated, the other 40,000 will have to be tested regularly.
Trinidad and Tobago has recorded more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths  since March last year when the pandemic hit the country.
The deadly virus has left no household or family untouched.
Nearly one in every 39 people in the country has been confirmed to have the deadly virus.
About one in every 1,400 people have lost their lives to the deadly virus.
In the last COVID-19 spike in the country, occurring between late August 2020 and
October 2020, the country recorded 5,266 cases with 98 deaths.
For 23 days of July, 179 have died from the virus. For the same period in June, there were 273 deaths.
June saw the highest number of COVID-19 deaths (352) , while the second highest  number of deaths was recorded in May (326)
Tobago death toll increased to 33 last week.
Trinidad and Tobago’ s positive cases now stand at 5,783, with 298 active cases recorded in Tobago as of last week.
So far in July, 4,272 people have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 29,915 have been recorded in 2021.
The Ministry of Health has vaccinated to date, 91,844 people with the the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine; 216,617 the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine.
A total of 179,382 have been fully vaccinated.
— Compiled by Azad Ali

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