Communiqué of the 4th special meeting of the OECS Authority

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — The Fourth Special meeting of the OECS Authority was held virtually on November 19, 2020, under the chairmanship of Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the way forward on COVID-19: classification systems, testing solutions and the procurement of tests.

The way forward for OECS COVID-19 response

The OECS Authority received a report from the director-general of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Dr Didacus Jules, on the OECS Commission’s continued dynamic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in the areas of Health, Economic, Education, Social and Security (HEESS), which emphasized the region’s cohesion during this crisis.

The Commission was tasked by the Authority to come up with a new system for living in the era of the novel coronavirus. The presentation covered the OECS Framework Protocols; Priority Decisions, Monitoring and Classification; and Travel Requirements. With respect to Education, the Authority was apprised on revised school protocols across the region and the efforts being made to ensure the continued access to quality education at all levels.

The Authority received a report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the regional lead agency for health, on its recently redesigned protocols. These new protocols will allow better timely data capture for quicker action to reduce the transmission and spread of the COVID-19 virus. These protocols were developed collaboratively by CARPHA with regional chief medical officers following the need for more timely advisories and the separation of data between local and imported cases. The new protocols will also help with country classifications by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency for the United States of America (USA).

CARPHA reported that it was integrally in discussion with the COVAX Facility which is a 64 country global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need. CARPHA committed that it will ensure that any vaccine making its way into the region has been rigorously screened and passes all the due diligence tests. An appeal was made to Member States to recognise the interface between CARPHA and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) where CARPHA was required to obtain information on infections and travel; from Member States for onward transmission to the CDC.

The heads received a report from Dr Sean Matthews, chairperson of the Negotiating Sub-Committee for the establishment of a testing and data solution at the gateway airports in eleven international locations, from which tourists access the Eastern Caribbean, to allow for safer travel to the OECS Member States.

The heads noted with satisfaction the conclusion of these negotiations and that the appropriate documents were sent to all the attorneys general. Following discussions with their respective attorneys general, the heads committed to report on the conclusions before the end of November.

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