A ROUNDUP OF REGIONAL CORONAVIRUS HEADLINES
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
INMATES WITH SIX MONTHS OR LESS TO SERVE COULD BE RELEASED EARLY (antiguaobserver.com) Discussions were underway, Thursday, that could see the release of prisoners with six months or less to serve. Prisoners have complained about the suspension of food deliveries by relatives and their health and safety in confined conditions. The minister responsible for prisons, Stedroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, said that this was an ongoing discussion in the region not just in Antigua & Barbuda. A 20% discount on the cost of fuel to fishermen has also been announced to support food security. Two more cases – a woman who had flown in from New York and a female yacht worker -were confirmed on Thursday bringing the total of active cases to nine.
ACT OF KINDNESS IN TIMES OF CRISIS (arubatoday.com). To recognise the work of the Aruba Police Department, several businesses got together to make donations: Compra NV donated a selection of fruit, Taco Bell delivered food to the night shift, others donated drinks and other products as a show of gratitude. Aruba has reported 61 active cases of COVID-19.
TWO COVID-19 PATIENTS DIE IN HOSPITAL(thenassauguardian.com). Two patients suffering from COVID-19 have died in hospital, it was announced on Thursday, 3 April. Earlier, the sister of the Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson died on the way from Bimini Island to hospital in Nassau. It was reported, but no confirmation is available, that she had not been tested for the virus. A total of 132 people have been charged with breaking the curfew which has been in place since 24 March. There are 22 reported active cases of the virus.
24-HOUR CURFEW ANNOUNCEMENT STIMULATES PANIC BUYING (loopnewsbarbados.com). Barbadians rushed to the supermarkets, minimarts and gas stations to stock up on food supplies and essential items before government’s mandated 24-hour curfew came into force on 3 April. Shoppers complained that they were not given enough notice about the curfew. Barbados has reported 51 active cases of Covid-19.
BONAIRE, STATIA, SABA
‘NOT THE TIME FOR NAME-CALLING, DIVISION OR BLAME GAME’ (bes-reporter.com). St. Eustatius PLP leader, Clyde van Putten, says he is deeply concerned about the arrival of the COVID-19 virus on the island, but that it is not the time for division, name-calling or what he calls ‘the blame game’. He also said that he was concerned with some of the comments and postings on social media which, in his opinion, were not contributing in a positive way to the present situation. Statia has reported its first two cases of COVID-19.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
GOV’T FORCED TO ALLOW ENTRY OF LOCALS (bvinews.com/news) Premier Andrew Fahie has said that the BVI was forced to allow for the return of nationals after the closure of borders. Legal arguments about the rights of nationals to return home prompted the move, which was agreed so long as those concerned were quarantined. ‘If I had my way, they wouldn’t have reached back at all. I ain’t afraid to tell them,’ said Fahie. There are three active cases reported on the BVI.
OVER 25,000 PEOPLE ARE UNDER PRIMARY HEALTHCARE SURVEILLANCE IN THEIR HOMES (oncubanews.com). The number of active cases continues to climb with the total now at 248. The island’s Ministry of Public Health reports that of recent positive cases, age varies from a three-year-old to an elderly woman of 79, while the prevailing age range is between 30 and 60 years. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Cuba complained that the restrictions of the US embargo had thwarted the donation of masks, ventilators and tests to detect the coronavirus that was sent to the island by the Chinese electronic giant Alibaba.
MILITARY PROVIDES CORONA TEST TEAM (curacaochronicle.com). A recently trained team consisting of a general military doctor and two general military nurses will support Department of Health testing teams. In order to ensure that language is not a barrier to taking tests, a military nurse has also been trained who speaks Papiamento. Curacao has reported seven active cases of COVID-19.
DOMINICAN GOVERNMENT EXTENDS SOCIAL DISTANCING PERIOD (dominicantoday.com). The curfew has been extended for a further 15 days from 5pm to 6am. Additional social distancing measures require the population to remain in their homes, and only allows businesses offering priority services to open their doors (supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stations, fuels, and some from the agricultural sector). The Dominican Republic has reported 1,404 active cases.
MORE THAN 100 CHARGED WITHIN FIRST THREE DAYS OF MANDATORY 24-HOUR CURFEW (nowgrenada.com). The greatest number of charges were laid between 6am on Thursday to 6am on Friday when 44 people were charged with breaking the curfew. The total number charged since Monday is 115, with most arrests in the parish of St George. ‘This increase was largely due to the employment of drone technology which now allows us wider capabilities to enforce these regulations,’ said Vannie Curwen, Head of the Community Relations Department. Grenada has reported 10 active cases of COVID-19.
THREE FRENCH INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALLERS PLEDGE DONATION TO TEACHING HOSPITAL. (20minutes.fr/sport) Three international French footballers have pledged an unknown donation to the main teaching hospital in Pointe-a-Pitre. The three, Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid) and Anthony Martial (Manchester United) are all of Guadeloupean origin. Guadeloupe has reported 99 active cases of COVID-19.
HAITI DOCTORS FLEE STATE-RUN HOSPITAL TO AVOID CORONAVIRUS (voanews.com). The rooms of the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince are largely empty this week due to many doctors and nurses refusing to work for fear of becoming infected with the coronavirus. ‘We are already working under conditions that are not normal for most hospitals, and now it’s gotten worse,”’ said nurse Marie Catherine, referring to the lack of protective equipment available to frontline health workers. Haiti has 17 active cases of COVID-19, with more than 200 people in quarantine awaiting test results.
VIRUS TERROR – HUNT ON FOR VOLUNTEERS AS HEALTHCARE WORKERS SHY AWAY FROM TESTING PERSONS (jamaica-gleaner.com) The Ministry of Health and Wellness is seeking volunteers to caring out testing for COVID-10 as some healthcare workers have expressed fear about conducting the tests. The Ministry of Health has said that Jamaica has the capacity to conduct 1,260 tests weekly but that only 153 tests had been carried out this week. National epidemiologist Dr Karen Webster-Kerr said that training of health staff to carry out the tests were continuing. ‘We understand the fear but we must overcome it,’ she said. The widely used testing method was from a swab from the back of the nostril or throat. Meanwhile, a post-COVID-19 virus plan was being put in place by the Ministry of Tourism in the form of a Recovery Task Force. Jamaica has reported 42 active cases.
AIR FRANCE FLIGHTS THIS WEEK (martinique.franceantilles.fr) A minimal air service to and from Guadeloupe, Martinique, Cayenne(French Guyana) and Paris is in place. Permission to board the flights is restricted to tourists needing to return home, those who have urgent personal or professional reasons for repatriation. Martinique has 108 active cases of COVID-19.
LAWMAKERS CALL ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO ADDRESS PUERTO RICO’S VULNERABILITY TO COVID-19 (thehill.com). Democratic lawmakers are calling on Vice President Pence, who leads the administration’s coronavirus task force, to provide information on how he plans to address unique obstacles Puerto Rico faces throughout the pandemic. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said in a letter to Pence that the administration was slow to provide the U.S. territory adequate aid after hurricanes Irma and Maria. ‘As the COVID-19 pandemic hits Puerto Rico, these economic and public health risks will grow and risk exacerbating the crisis,’ the lawmakers said, adding, ‘the Trump administration’s actions to delay and impede the island’s economic and health care disaster recovery will result in further grave harm to the island’s residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.’ Puerto Rico has reported 301 active cases of the virus.
HON VINCE AMORY DENOUNCES MISINFORMATION (facebook.com/sknismedia) Vince Amory, the Minister with Responsibility for Labour and Social Affairs, has denounced what he called “destructive fake news” circulating on social media in which it was claimed that cheques for income assistance up to EC$1000 per month would be available on Friday 3 April, at the Social Security Board. Minister Vance Amory said that the cheques were not yet ready and that the ‘fake news’ was being spread to cause confusion. St Kitts-Nevis has reported nine active cases.
‘WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT IF WE KEEP FIGHTING EACH OTHER’ (stlucianewsonline.com) ‘I am appealing to everyone to please put our differences aside. Let us work together and support one another. Let us be disciplined, practice self-isolation especially when we go out in public. It is for our own safety and that of our families,” PM Alan Chastanet said. The island has recorded 12 active cases and the country is currently under a 24-hour curfew for seven days.
ONLY NINE PASSENGERS ALLOWED ON BUSES (news784.com) As SVG records two new active cases of COVID-19, measures have been outlined by the Government regarding public transportation. Minister of Health Luke Browe stated that the maximum capacity for public buses has now been reduced from 13 to nine passengers.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
COVID-19 CASES REPORT 6 DEATHS (newsday.co.tt). The recorded number of deaths from the COVID-19 cases now totals six. If the population did not heed the warnings to stay at home, said Minister of Health Terrence Delalsingh, it would hurt the ability of frontline health workers to confront the pandemic. A map of COVID-19 cases on Trinidad & Tobago has been published to show the distribution of confirmed cases. Trinidad & Tobago now has 90 active cases.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
USVI ELIGIBLE FOR US$2.9M COVID-19 FUNDING FROM US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (vi.gov/news) The US Virgin Islands are eligible for US$2.9m in immediate funding for protective equipment for first responders. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has granted a Major Disaster Declaration which will trigger the release of federal funds. Governor Albert Bryan Jr welcomed the move but said that “declaration is not as expansive as we have hoped”. He said that federal aid is needed for individuals and households affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The US Territory has a reported 37 active cases.
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