A ROUNDUP OF REGIONAL CORONAVIRUS HEADLINES
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA JOIN CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES IN LOCKDOWN(caribbean360.com). A one-week lockdown from 1 April has replaced the night-time curfew, which according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, “was not working”. Supermarkets would, however, remain open with a limited number of people allowed access at one time. He said that the country’s health care system could not cope with an influx of critically ill people. (antiguaobserver.com) In an attempt to stall criticism that the government has not been adequately prepared, Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said that, ‘We are hoping that within two weeks all citizens of Antigua & Barbuda will have masks.’ The twin-island state has reported seven active cases of Covid-19.
ARUBA LAUNCHES COVID-19 COMMUNITY GUIDE AND REGISTRATION FOR VOLUNTEERS (arubatoday.com). Centro pa Desaroyo di Aruba (CEDE Aruba) has launched a website (in Papiamento) for people to register for voluntary work during the coronavirus crisis. The community services website (org.aw) has links to an online form which aims to connect people to community needs and organisations. Aruba has reported 54 active cases of Covid-19.
REPEAT CURFEW VIOLATOR AMONG THOSE CHARGED TODAY(thenassauguardian.com). A man charged and fined for curfew violation last week was arrested and charged for the same offence the following day. He was ordered to pay a fine or face 12 months in prison. There are 19 reported active cases in the Bahamas.
APRIL FOOL’S JOKES, PRANKS AROUND COVID-19 ARE MALICIOUS, PUNISHABLE (loopnewsbarbados.com). Barbadians woke on 1 April to a hoax in the form of a fake Gazette on the State of Emergency on island, which contained spoof stories about a new clampdown on activities. Barbados has recently been fighting to stem a flow of fake news. According to Press Secretary Roy Morris, ‘This kind of maliciousness really cannot continue … People are doing immense damage to others and they are setting up others to create mischief, to literally ferment unrest. I should make it known that if the person who is responsible for this can be traced, the full extent of the law will be brought to bear.’ Barbados has reported 34 active cases of Covid-19.
STATEMENT BY ISLAND GOVERNOR RIJNA (bes-reporter.com). Governor Edison Rijna confirmed there are still no known cases of Covid-19 on the island of Aruba. Social distancing measures are in effect and the island is closed to international traffic. According to Rijna, ‘The last international passenger flight landed two weeks ago. The chance that the coronavirus is on the island is getting smaller. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. There will come a time when the first infection occurs.’
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
NEW 14-DAY CURFEW TO TAKE EFFECT ON THURSDAY(bvinews.com). Governor Augustus Jaspert announced that the British Overseas Territory will be placed under a new curfew from Thursday 2 April, to last 14 days. The night-time curfew would be “absolute” with a “limited” day-time curfew to allow essential activities. There has been an “overwhelming” response from farmers and fisherfolk, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, following the government’s US$2m injection of funds to help the agriculture and fishing sector. There are three active cases in the BVI.
CUBA READY TO ASSIST GHANA FIGHT COVID-19 (graphic.com.gh). The Cuban government has agreed to assist Ghana with a medical brigade made up of specialist doctors, nurses and medicines to fight the coronavirus if Ghana makes a formal request. This offer follows an intervention by the African Union Commission through its deputy chairperson, Kwesi Quartey, on behalf of Ghana. Cuba has so far offered or provided support to countries such as Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, Italy, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Grenada and Suriname. At home, Cuba has reported 194 active cases of its own.
“STAY AT HOME!” (curacaochronicle.com). Epidemiologist DIzzyGerstenbluth has emphasised the need for people to remain at home: “We detected that there are local infections, so everyone has to stay at home. It is precisely in these circumstances that things go fast. Prevention of local contamination is the most important issue at this stage, so stick to the rules. We know it’s not fun, but it is necessary for all of us,” he said. Curacao has reported seven active cases of Covid-19.
HOTELIERS OFFER 1500+ ROOMS TO ATTEND VIRUS VICTIMS (dominicantoday.com). The Dominican Republic Hotel and Tourism Association has announced that its members have made available to the government more than 1,500 hotel rooms that the Public Health Ministry could use to treat patients and stop the spread of Covid-19. The Dominican Republic is struggling with accelerating numbers of active cases, which today stand at 1,218.
IMPORTED COVID-19 PATIENT SNEAKS OUT (nowgrenada.com). Health authorities have confirmed that one of Grenada’s nine Covid-19 patients has sneaked out of the country on an international flight. It is understood that the man and his family who are UK nationals, boarded an Air Canada flight before the start of the 24-hour mandatory curfew. Grenada has reported nine active cases of Covid-19.
ORGANISATIONS EXPRESS THEIR CONCERNS (haitiantimes.com). The Organisation of Citizens for a New Haiti, the Combite for Peace and Development, and the Center for Peasant Animation and Community Action have expressed their concerns about the risk of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Haiti. “Our already deleterious social system may not recover. Overcrowding in certain neighbourhoods is a major problem. Our living conditions leave something to be desired, and we fear an exponential growth in the number of contaminations,” they said in a joint statement. Haiti, a country of 11 million, has reported 15 active cases of the virus.
HEFTY FINES, PRISON FOR FAILURE TO SELF-QUARANTINE OR SELF-IDENTIFY AFTER ARRIVAL IN JAMAICA(caribbean360.net) People who arrived in Jamaica between 18 and 30 March and failed to self-identify or quarantine face fines of up to US$7,402 or 12 months in prison, according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on Monday 31 March. He noted that Jamaica’s curve has been relatively flat in terms of reported cases. Road deaths decreased by one third in March but officials have not confirmed a link with the onset of Covid-19 on the island. There are 39 reported active cases.
POLICE STATIONS CLOSING AMID CORONAVIRUS CURFEW (thehill.com). Puerto Rico’s government has announced the closure of a fifth police station in a week amid growing concerns about officers’ exposure to the coronavirus. The closures come as police officers accuse the territory’s central government of not doing enough to protect them. It is reported that more than 150 members of the 11,000-strong police force are under quarantine. Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez has implemented one of the strictest curfews on American soil, imposing restrictions on daily schedules for a variety of businesses, automobile transit, and when and under what circumstances citizens can leave their homes. Puerto Rico has reported 275 active cases of Covid-19.
ST KITTS-NEVIS LOCKDOWN(timescaribbeanoline.com) The government of St Kitts-Nevis has implemented a three-day lockdown from 31March to 3 April. There are eight reported active cases.
“ST LUCIA COULD HAVE UP TO 132 CONFIRMED CASES” (stlucianewsonline.com) “These are some of the projections which have resulted in our immediate 24-hour shutdown,” Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said on his Facebook page on 1 April. He also disclosed that around 100 more people have been placed in quarantine based on contact-tracing. A 24-hour curfew has come into effect and is scheduled to end on 7 April, at 5 a.m. St Lucia has reported 12 active cases of Covid-19.
BILLIONAIRE DAVID GEFFEN SELF-ISOLATING IN THE GRENADINES ON MEGA YACHT (theguardian.com) ‘As the claustrophobic reality of self-isolation under the coronavirus outbreak begins to bite for millions of families confined to their homes,’ reports the UK’s Guardian newspaper, ‘the billionaire record producer David Geffen (net worth US$7.7 billion) is currently self-isolating off the Grenadines aboard his mega-yacht, Rising Sun.’ St Vincent has reported no further cases of Covid-19.
TT REPORTS FIFTH COVID-19 DEATH(newsday.co.tt) An elderly man with pre-existing health issues has become the fifth person to die from the Covid-19 virus. The number of people allowed to gather has been reduced from 10 to five. Police have indicated that they will take action against businesses who do not encourage their customers to observe social distancing. Trinidad & Tobago has 84 active cases of Covid-19.
TURKS & CAICOS
TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS ON LOCKDOWN(suntci.com) Emergency powers were used on Wednesday, 1 April, to declare a 14-day lockdown with only essential services permitted to operate. This is the first time a state of emergency has been declared in a British Overseas Territory due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are six reported active cases in this British Overseas Territory.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
GOVERNOR BRYAN EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY(doh.vi.gov/news). The State of Emergency has been extended to 30 April, with Governor Albert Bryan ordering the closure of all beach restaurants to restrict people gathering in groups. A programme to distribute breakfast and lunch to children, “No VI Child Goes Hungry”, has been implemented. There are a reported 30 active on this US Territory.