COVID-19 ‘very real’ to health and economic impact in the Caribbean

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By Caribbean News Global Caribbean News Global fav COVID-19 ‘very real’ to health and economic impact in the Caribbean

TORONTO, Canada – The threat of a global pandemic is rising as COVID-19 rapidly spreads across Asia, to Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean region of St Martin, St Barthélémy, the Dominican Republic, Martinique, and Jamaica.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, “Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real.”

Jamaica has recorded its first imported case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Minister of health and wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, said: “The patient is a Jamaican female who had travelled from the United Kingdom, which has cases of COVID-19,” is in isolation at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston.

“She arrived in the island on March 4, presented to the public health system on March 9, and has been in isolation since then,” added, “Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, health professionals suspected COVID-19. A clinical sample was collected and sent to the National Influenza Centre, where laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis today at approximately 11:00 a.m. The patient and family members have been informed,” minister Tufton said.

“We continue to patrol irregular border crossings. Sensitisation of key personnel at all airports and seaports is ongoing. We have designated four quarantine facilities and others will be identified. We are finalising the retrofitting of isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals,” he added.

“When you reach 100 countries and when you reach 100,000 cases, it is time to step back and think, two weeks ago it was 30 countries,” said Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s emergencies programme.

Address parliament on COVID-19, Tuesday, March 10, prime minister of Saint Lucia Allen Chastanet said: “As a government, we know that our population is particularly vulnerable, partly due to a large number of persons with diabetes and hypertension and other chronic illnesses that are susceptible to the coronavirus. We have also recognized that there is currently insufficient space available to support a major outbreak in Saint Lucia. Hence, we have made some initial efforts and committed significant financial resources that have already been highlighted by the ministry of health.”

Prime minister Chastanet said that the preliminary calculations show that we have forgone approximately 18,721 cruise passengers coming to our shores. These are the difficult decisions we have had to make but always in the best interest of our citizens.

“As we prepare for our 2020-2021 budget, we are also monitoring what is happening on the world stage. The economic fall out in the last couple of days in the global stock market; which is a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, as well as the oil price war which has now erupted between Russia and Saudi Arabia. This has created economic anxiety. Hence we are in dialogue with the Central Bank, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on what measures and mechanisms we can put in place in order to maintain the confidence of the business community. A conference call with the IMF is scheduled with the region for Monday (March 16) next week,” he said.

According to the prime minister, The government of Saint Lucia has delayed the [2019/ 2020] budget presentation “until we have a full picture of the economic implications in order that our numbers can be adjusted to the new normal.”

He continued: “The good news is that the government’s major capital investment programs – the airport, St Jude, the police headquarters, the road rehabilitation, our CDP projects and improvements in our healthcare sector – will continue and will help to cushion some of the negative impacts. Our government has taken the approach of viewing the coronavirus situation as we would a hurricane. That is why we mobilized the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC).

“By treating the coronavirus as an impending hurricane, we are operating with the understanding that we have a potentially catastrophic event coming. Like a hurricane, there is uncertainty: it could hit us, or it may not hit us. When it is going to hit us and how strong it is going to be are all things that we cannot predict with any level of certainty.

“If we are successful in spreading the word, practicing good hygiene and effectively change our behaviours, then this is in fact the vaccine: to slow down or eliminate the ability of the virus to spread. I repeat: We don’t need panic, we need preparation,” the prime minister concluded.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 50 

 

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