COVID-19: Regional Roundup for April 13, 2020



HELPING THE NATION FIGHT CORONAVIRUS ( ) A planeload of medical supplies, including eight ventilators and 18,000 face masks, arrived at the weekend, donated by the Jumby Bay Fund, a charity set up in 2014 by Jumby Bay homeowners. The twin-island state has recorded 21 active cases of the Covid-21 virus.



PRODUCE VENDORS ALLOWED TO PLY TRADE DURING COVID-19 CURFEW ( Prime Minister Mia Mottley has announced that the government will be putting measures in place to facilitate fruit and vegetable vendors during the curfew period, which has been extended until 3 May. Acknowledging that the vendors are an essential part of society, she said, ‘It is critical that these persons be allowed to ply their trade and earn a livelihood, but to also provide the fruits and vegetables that our population needs. In fact, it is that that is going to boost our immune system, more than anything else.’ Barbados has recorded 56 active cases of Covid-19.



BONAIRE STARTS ‘DRIVE-THRU’ COVID TESTING ( Bonaire will attempt to test as much of its population as possible while mitigating exposure of both residents and medical staff. From Tuesday 14 April, a large tent will be set up where the tests can be taken while people remain in their car. In the tent, tests will be taken by means of a swab of the throat and nose. Those tested will receive a folder with details of how and when they can receive their test result. A maximum of two people per car can be tested. So far, Bonaire has recorded no active cases of Covid-19. Saba has one active case, and Statia has recorded two.


BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS BVI SEEKS UK’S HELP TO RETRIEVE SHIPMENT SEIZED BY US (bvinew.som) The BVI has asked the UK government to retrieve a shipment of medical supplies worth US$12,000 seized by the US on its way to the BVI. According to US President Donald Trump, the export of coronavirus protective gear has been stopped because the US needs these items ‘immediately for domestic use’. This British Overseas Territory has one active case of the virus.



PREMIER VERY WORRIED OVER COVID-19 INCREASES ( Premier Alden McLaughlin said at the weekend
that he was “really, really worried” by the escalation of cases in the British Overseas Territory. In the wake of the increase to 46 active
cases, he ordered the beaches to be closed on Easter Monday. Police officials said that there had been reports of people partying on beaches
‘in the guise of exercise’. Caymanians are currently allowed to exercise for 90 minutes daily.



CUBAN UNION MOVEMENT CALLS TO UNITE AGAINST US BLOCKADE ( The Cuban Workers Central has called on international trade union movements to join the fight against the US blockade of the island. In an appeal published in the Trabajadores newspaper, the labour organisation denounced that, at a time when Covid-19 is affecting the world, the US government is tightening the siege against the Caribbean nation. Its actions, the statement said, are “committed to preventing the Cuban people from accessing the necessary resources to overcome this disease”. The US is also accused of urging other nations to reject Cuba’s offers of help by discrediting
the values of Cuban medicine. Cuba has reported 584 active cases of Covid-19.



NATIONAL LOCKDOWN EXTENDED FOR TWO MORE WEEKS ( Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath announced that the measures taken in the fight against COVID-19 will be extended for two more weeks. ‘This week we look at how we can ease the measures step by step and what we can do to go back to a running economy, but in a responsible way,’ he said. ‘We will evaluate to see if we can relax a bit.’ Curacao has reported five active cases of Covid-19.



THE DOMINICAN NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS WARNS OF ‘FAMINE’ DUE TO CRISIS ( Erik Rivero, president of the National Confederation of Agricultural Producers (Confenagro), warned that a famine could be unleashed in the future due to the crisis in the agricultural sector because of a 50% reduction of sales outlets and consumption of agricultural products. Rivero asked President Danilo Medina to urgently create a high-level agricultural commission to deal with this crisis. The Dominican Republic has recorded 2,838 active cases of Covid-19.



PM MITCHELL LABELS PM GONSALVES’ FOOD SHOPPING INVITATION AS IRRESPONSIBLE ( Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, has described PM Gonsalves’ invitation for people from Carriacou and Petite Martinique to go and shop for food and gas in Union Island, which is governed by St Vincent and the Grenadines, as completely reckless. ‘It is alarming that our citizens are called upon to break the law by the leader of another country. It is a grossly irresponsible action that has the potential for not only legal consequences but also poses a significant threat to public health and public safety,’ Dr Mitchell said. He also expressed his concern about the decision by Gonsalves to keep his borders open while other countries in the region have closed theirs as part of the strategy to combat the spread of the contagion. Grenada has recorded 14 active cases of Covid-19.



FRANCE TO REMAIN IN STRICT LOCKDOWN FOR ANOTHER MONTH ( ) President Emanuel Macron of France announced on Monday, 13 April, that the country, including its Caribbean departments, would remain in lockdown for another month. He said that France could start returning to normal life on 11 May if citizens were ‘civic, responsible and respected the rules’. He also announced a gradual reopening of nurseries and schools but that higher education would not resume until after the summer.



‘IRRESPONSIBLE AND DANGEROUS’: US DEPORTS HAITIANS DESPITE CORONAVIRUS RISKS ( The United States, the new epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic, deported 61 Haitians this month despite warnings that such deportations could contribute to the spread of the virus in Haiti. Public health experts fear that an outbreak could have particularly deadly consequences for the impoverished nation where many people lack access to basic necessities like health care and food. For its population of 11 million people, Haiti has just 124 ICU beds and the ability to ventilate less than 70 patients, according to a study by the Research and
Education Consortium for Acute Care in Haiti. So far, Haiti has recorded 37 active cases of Covid-19.



SHUTDOWN OF CALL CENTRE ( ) Two employees of a call centre in the Portland district have tested positive for
the Covid-19 virus leading to a fear that such high density business environments may be incubators for the disease. The Ministry of Health
is investigating with the testing of employees and deep cleaning of the premises. Jamaica has reported 52 active cases.



PUERTO RICO EXTENDS LOCKDOWN TO MAY ( Puerto Rico’s governor announced that the US territory will remain on lockdown until 3 May to curb coronavirus cases, marking one of the strictest measures taken in a US jurisdiction. Gov. Wanda Vázquez said non-essential businesses will remain closed and that people must remain indoors from 9pm to 5am, leaving outside those hours only to buy food or medicine or go to the bank. However, she said hardware stores and car repair shops can operate twice a week on limited schedules. Everyone is still required to wear a face mask to enter any business as Health Secretary Lorenzo González warned that the peak of cases is not expected until early May. “We cannot lower our guard,” he said. “We have not seen the worst of it.” Puerto Rico has reported 854 active cases of Covid-19.



NATIONAL MEALS PROGRAMME DELIVERS OVER 3,000 MEALS ( The first phase of the National Meals Programme (NMP) started on 12 April, with over 3,000 meals being delivered to the less fortunate across Saint Lucia. NMP is part of the government’s Social Stabilisation Programme, launched in response to the negative social impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease on Saint Lucia. St Lucia has reported 11 active cases of the virus.



COVID-19 – PCR TESTING EQUIPMENT FOR ST VINCENT WITHHELD BY THE US ( SVG Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has thanked Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro for the COVID-19 screening tests that he sent to his country on Saturday. ‘We have received 3,000 rapid test kits for the COVID-19 and a relevant quantity of reagents for the PCR test,’ said Gonsalves. ‘We don’t have the PCR equipment yet. Many pieces of our PCR equipment have been held in the great US for one reason or another,’ he added. SVG has reported 11 active cases of Covid-19.



EXPERTS BAFFLED BY NEW COVID-19 INFECTIONS ( Chief Medical Officer Dr Rohan Parasram reported at the weekend that three of the new confirmed cases of Covid-19 had tested positive long after the 14-day incubation period and that none of the three had exhibited symptoms. The three were among 68 cruise ship passengers who were put into quarantine on 18 March after their return to Trinidad. They had all previously tested negative for the virus and were being readied to be sent home. Dr Parasram said the situation was ‘quite unusual’ and that the information had been forwarded to virologists at the Caribbean Public Health Agency. Meanwhile, police have reported a decrease in serious crimes but said that criminals would turn to other crimes, such as robberies and burglaries. Trinidad & Tobago has 89 reported cases.

N.B. There’s been another drop in the number of active cases in Dominica as revealed in a post on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page on Monday.

Click here for the latest global numbers on COVID-19.

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