The Antigua and Barbuda government has given Monday, Sept. 27 a deadline for all unvaccinated public sector workers to show proof of having been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
A policy document released a week ago also outlines similar measures for people operating public transport, the trade union movement, private sector employees as well as arriving passengers into the country.
In the policy statement, Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s administration said the measure regarding vaccinations will include workers in the public service, statutory corporations and companies in which the government holds majority shares.
It said that with effect from Oct. 1, all unvaccinated public sector employees, inclusive of statutory corporations of which the government hold majority shares, shall be required to remain at home until proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
In addition all officers of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force are required to be vaccinated effective Oct. 1.
It noted also that all arriving passengers, including returning nationals and residents, are required to have received at least the first dose of a vaccine approved by the appropriate authorities in Antigua and Barbuda.
Barbados Minister of Health and Wellness, Jeffrey Bostic announced last week that there is “widespread community transmission” of COVID-19 and that the country was being impacted by the Delta variant.
He also disclosed that many clusters exist in the south of the island.
Speaking at a COVID-19 update news conference, Bostic said that the latest figures show that 14 families, ranging from two to seven persons in each, had been impacted and that 142 families had been affected from Aug. 1 to Sept. 17.
There were 95 new cases from 1,686 tests conducted by the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.
He also spoke about the lives that had been lost due to COVID-19, especially those occurred over the past week.
A 58-year-old man became the 58th death of COVID-19.
The minister said all six persons who died recently were unvaccinated.
He also mentioned other figures that show how the country was being impacted by the Delta variant.
Leaders of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have been told there is “ample provision” in their constitutions to support mandatory vaccination laws as the sub-region continues the battle to curb the spread of the COVIDovid-19 pandemic that has affected hundreds of their citizens and killing a significant number of others since March last year.
In addition, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat have been informed that there are correspondence jurisprudence and medical data to support the position of mandatory vaccination.
The issue of mandatory vaccination has surfaced not only in the OECS countries but also in the wider Caribbean Community where governments have been urging their nationals to be vaccinated as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the virus that has led to the closure of borders, a crippling of economies and stringent policies such as curfews and states of emergency (SoE).
Guyana says it expects to deposit more than US$500 million into the National Resources Fund (NRF) by the end of this year.
Minister of National Resources, Vickram Bharrat said the country is also due to export a million barrels of oil in the coming weeks and another million before the end of the year and that both exports will have an average revenue of US$70 million.
“You can safely say that before the end of 2021, we will have nearly half a billion United States dollars in the Natural Resource Fund, that is intact and not a cent has been spent from it,” he said.
Bharrat said that so far, seven million barrels of oil have been sold on the international market.
He said that the government has indicated that no money would be spent from the fund unless there is parliamentary approval, reminding national that the Natural Resource Fund Act was passed in 2019.
The Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) is calling on workers to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus amid an increase in cases over the past few weeks.
GTAWU, one of the most powerful trade unions in Grenada, also urged all Grenadians to comply with the requirements of the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The union’s President General, Andre Lewis, who signed the memo, said the current rate of transmission of COVID-19 on the island is significant and the union must play a role in reducing the spread of the virus linked to 55 deaths and more than 3,000 infections since January 2020 to Sept. 20, 2021.
Lewis said the union is of the view that the 48 hours or two days only for quarantine for vaccinated people entering the island posed a serious risk to the population.
He said based on recent developments this was not in the best interest of the people.
Jamaican Police Commissioner, Anthony Anderson says Jamaica should not expect the measures put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, such as no movement days, to effectively deal with criminal activities, including murders.
Jamaica recorded 27 murders recently, including nine killings in one day, the first day of the lockdown when tighter restrictions had been imposed by the government in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has killed 1,734 people since March last year.
Overall, the country has recorded more than 935 murders and 815 shootings since March last year.
As of Aug. 28, the police had reported that there were 935 so far for the year, 83 more when compared when compared to the corresponding period in 2020.
Anderson told a news conference that the lockdown is a COVID-19 prevention measure, not a murder prevention measure, which are two different things.
He told the news conference that familiarity among warring gangsters has made crime prevention by the police extremely difficult, even with the increased powers and access to lawmen afforded by less traffic and decreased public distractions during the lockdown.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will provide up to US$1million (TT$6.7) million to support counter trafficking in persons (TIP) in Trinidad and Tobago.
It said the assistance will focus on supporting the Trinidad and Tobago government to combat human trafficking while strengthening the support services offered by non-government and government agencies to better meet the needs of trafficking victims such as counseling, therapy, skills training and social services support.
USAID’s assistance will be tailored to meet the priorities of the Keith Rowley administration’s TIP national action plan and the recommendations from the US government’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.
USAID said it will provide technical assistance to improve TIP data collection and reporting integrate customized information technology tools and resources and build capacity to strengthen intelligence gathering, investigation and ultimately, prosecution of TIP perpetrators.
— Compiled by Azad Ali