Prime Minister Gaston Browne has warned that the time has come to take tougher and more unpopular measures to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 that has so far killed 47 people and infected 2,047 others since March last year.
He hinted that his government may implement a mandatory vaccination policy for Antigua and Barbuda.
‘This is a very serious issue. I have signaled to the people of Antigua and Barbuda months ago that if we have to make vaccination mandatory in this country we will do it. We are not afraid to do it,” Browne told Parliament.
“There comes a time when we have to stand alone and make decisions in the national interest,” Browne said noting that Cabinet had earlier approved of a measure that all public servants “must get vaccinated or get tested twice monthly otherwise they would not be eligible to enter the workplace.”
The new policy would come into effect from Oct. 1.
The government had earlier indicated that only frontline workers would be required to be vaccinated or to produce twice-monthly COVID-19 tests.
Bahamas health authorities say the Delta variant is the predominant strain of the Covid-19 pandemic as the country continues to grapple with the impact of the virus that has killed 453 people and infected 19,139 others since March last year.
The Ministry of Health in a statement said the results received from the FIOCRUZ Laboratory in Brazil confirmed the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
It said that the National Reference Laboratory had submitted 98 virus-positive samples to the lab for genomic sequencing.
The samples were collected between May 6 and Aug. 8 this year from various parts of the country.
According to the ministry 41 of the cases were the Delta Delta variant, while there were 39 cases of the Alpha variant.
The Ministry said the health care system is of both the public and private sectors is now severely challenged and over-burden and as a result non-COVID-19 cases requiring health care are at risk of not being able to access life-saving health care.
Barbadians have been warned against selling COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Coordinator of the National Vaccination Program, Major David Clarke has warned perpetrators that they face prosecution as the authorities reported the sale of COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Clarke said the Immunization Unit had become aware that members of the public were selling and purchasing the blue vaccination cards, which have been issued to those who have been vaccinated.
He said the practice is illegal, and that the Royal Barbados Police Force is aware of the activity where the cards are being sold for as much as BDS$200.
Clarke said the practice is strictly prohibited and anyone caught selling the cards would be prosecuted.
He said the Blue cards were not only free, but should be issued by a certified healthcare professional to individuals who have been vaccinated against the virus, which has been blamed for the deaths of 52 people and the infection of 5,561 others.
The first virtual Caribbean Youth Parliament to discuss climate justice gets underway on Sept. 23 with delegates representing 10 Caribbean countries.
A statement from the Caribbean Climate Justice Project (CCJP) said the event is being held in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Youth Council and will be attended by representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, Haiti, and Guyana.
The organizers said in a statement that a total of 167 applications were received from youths across the Caribbean to participate in the Parliament, which is meant to draw attention to the impact of climate change from the perspective of the youths.
The CCJP says it seeks to educate and inform of the threats posed to lives and livelihoods in the Caribbean by climate change and to catalyze action on the necessary responses at the household, community, national and regional levels.
It said that the virtual regional parliament will take place a day before the scheduled Global Climate Strike.
The resolution that is passed in the Youth Parliament will be submitted to the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat, the St. Lucia-based Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center.
Concerns have been mounting among security officials in Grenada following reports that approximately 20 percent of officers in the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) are now infected with the COVID-19 virus and as a result, some officers have been working in shifts of up to 16 hours a day.
According to health authorities, the island started recording an upsurge of COVID-19 cases mid-August due to mass gathering events some of which, were not authorized by the authorities.
Cases moved from 5 on Aug. 17 to 4,213 on Sept. 20 with 63 deaths todate.
Health authorities have declared that there is community spread with the Delta variant, which was detected in early August as the main stream.
Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin said less than 50 percent of the force have been vaccinated.
The United States is providing Jamaica with more than US$5 million in urgent COVID-19 assistance.
According to an official statement, the funds are being made available through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and will support Kingston’s urgent needs and fill gaps in order to accelerate widespread, equitable access to and the delivery and uptake of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the funds will also help in reducing morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 through critical public health and clinical interventions.
The statement said that “this additional assistance from the historic American Rescue Plan builds on the more than US$10 million in COVID-19 assistance the US government has donated to the government of Jamaica since the pandemic first broke out in March last year.
After canceling 10 flights between Sept. 9 and 24, American low-cost airline JetBlue announced that it will be resuming service between Trinidad and New York from Sept. 26.
This is according to JetBlue’s corporate communications in New York.
The airline did not explain the reasons for the cancellations.
JetBlue stated it is resuming its service to Trinidad and Tobago, which was temporarily suspended due to border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On Sept. 26, 2021 JetBlue will restart operations with four flights per week from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad. Travelers should check local mandates and advisories before travel,” the airline said.
It said the planned service remains subject to changes based on local and regulatory restrictions.
— Compiled by Azad Ali