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PM cautions principals against withholding students’ report cards

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Skerrit makes his point against withholding report cards for non-payment

Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has condemned the actions of principals of secondary schools on the island who withhold students’ report cards as a result of failure to pay school fees.

Skerrit, speaking at a handing over ceremony, on Sunday, said these actions are contrary to the laws of Dominica.

“…We have to review our education system,” he said. “And let me warn the school principals in Dominica, the last time I checked, secondary education in Dominica is free, and schools have come about and they’re charging students fees. And now, they say to the students and their parents ‘If you don’t pay these fees, then you won’t get your report cards’. Well, let me say to them that this action is contrary to the laws of Dominica, and let me say to them that it is going to stop because education in Dominica is free to our children.”

The Prime Minister stated that such practices are “punitive” and will directly affect the less fortunate, who are unable to pay the imposed fees.

He advised that schools’ decisions in regards to payment must be governed by the Education Act.

“When we do these things, we’re denying children access to their property, their grades. Obviously, it is always the less fortunate who will be left behind. It has to stop, and it is going to stop,” Skerrit explained. “I have no problem with children and their parents making a contribution to the school, but when it becomes punitive, it is something else, and therefore, they must follow the Education Act, which speaks to fees and who has the authority to approve fees to be charged to students.”

He also revealed plans to publicly hold government officials directly accountable for their actions.

“I am going to start speaking openly to the people of Dominica on things I do not like that’s happening in the government system, because… one man cannot be taking everybody’s blows,” Skerrit stated.“We’re gonna place the things where they are, and who are responsible bust take action, or else I will come to the public and say it.”





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COVID-19 Global Update (29 March 2020): Spain’s daily death toll rises again; Italy expects peak in a week

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(Corononavirus liveup) Spain has joined Italy and France in demanding Europe do more to help as it reported another record single-day increase in coronavirus deaths and moved to further tighten its already strict national lockdown.

Spanish authorities said on Sunday 838 people had died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 6,528, with 78,797 confirmed cases. All non-essential workers are to be ordered to stay at home for two weeks from Monday.

Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, said the situation was stabilising but “the main problem is making sure intensive care units aren’t overloaded”. ICUs in six of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions were at full capacity.

Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, taking its total to 10,779. The rate slowed for a second day, while new confirmed cases rose by 5.6% to 3,815. This was the lowest increase of the epidemic so far, offering some hope it may be nearing its peak there.

Spain and Italy account for more than half of the world’s death toll from Covid-19 and are each still seeing hundreds of deaths a day. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the virus has now infected more than 680,000 people and killed more than 32,000 around the world.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sànchez, described the crisis as “the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation” and said the 27-member bloc had to be “ready to rise to the challenge … It’s Europe’s time to act. Europe is at risk.”

Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, late on Saturday also urged Europe to show it was capable of responding. “I will fight to the last drop of sweat, the last gram of energy, to obtain a strong, vigorous, cohesive European response,” Conte said.

The country’s deputy health minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, told the BBC he expected the country to hit its infection peak in a week or 10 days “at most”, while France’s Europe minister, Amélie de Montchalin, said bloc’s “credibility and usefulness” rested on its collective response to the health crisis.

Spain, Italy and France have six others have asked the EU to issue “coronabonds” – a collective debt instrument – to help finance countries’ response to the pandemic, but the Netherlands, Austria and Germany have so far rejected the idea.

Several European countries have turned to China, where the epidemic originated but is now easing, for much-needed medical supplies such as protective masks and testing kits.

But after Spain on Friday withdrew 58,000 Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits after discovering they had an accuracy rate of just 30%, the Netherlands – which has recorded 771 deaths, with more than 10,000 confirmed cases – on Sunday recalled 600,000 Chinese face masks when they, too, were found to be defective.

France, which has reported 37,575 confirmed cases and a death toll of 2,314, excluding fatalities in its 7,000 retirement homes, evacuated 36 more patients from the hard-hit east to western areas on Sunday, hoping to free up intensive care units.

Two high-speed trains carried patients from Mulhouse and Nancy toward hospitals along France’s western coast, where the outbreak has been limited so far. “We have to free up beds, it’s absolutely crucial that we air out these intensive care units,” said Francois Brun, the head of emergency services at the regional hospital in nearby Metz.

A German military plane was also used to carry patients from Alsace to hospitals in Stuttgart and Ulm. Nearly 4,300 patients are in intensive care in France, which is racing to treble its ICU bed capacity from about 5,000 before the outbreak began.

In other developments:

  • Patrick Devedjian, a former French cabinet minister and prominent local politician, died in hospital after being tested positive. He was 75.
  • Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, took his own life apparently after becoming “deeply worried” about how to cope with the economic fallout from the epidemic.
  • The main opposition candidate in Polish presidential elections called for the vote to be boycotted if the government insists on going ahead with it on 10 May.
  • Pope Francis called for a ceasefire in all conflicts around the globe to focus on the “fight of our lives” against Covid-19.
  • Egypt shut its beaches as cases in the Middle East surpassed 50,000.
  • Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced further restrictions including limiting public gatherings to just two people.
  • All travellers entering South Korea will face two weeks of mandatory quarantine starting at midnight next Wednesday.
  • Tokyo confirmed 68 new coronavirus cases, another record daily increase.
  • China continued to relax restrictions, with flights from Hubei province and tube and bus services in Wuhan city, the centre of the outbreak, resuming this weekend.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said on Sunday that the “new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as the country’s death toll rose to 2,640 and its number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309. “We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered,” he said.

In the US, which has reported nearly 125,000 cases and where the death toll has more than doubled in three days, Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert, said it could expect more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections.

Donald Trump backtracked on a threat to quarantine New York and neighbouring states, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning against all non-essential travel in the region.

“Due to extensive community transmission of Covid-19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately,” the warning said.

View the latest COVID-19 numbers.





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COVID-19: NCCU revises business hours and provision of services

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The NCCU Ltd., in keeping with one of our co-operative principles, “concern for the community” and in light of the current situation with COVID 19, is revising its business hours.

Our concern remains the well-being of our staff and members and it is against this background, that effective March 28, 2020, the following is being implemented:

(a) Members requiring services which are not available through the CU Online Services and at the ATMs are required to schedule an appointment.

(b) To schedule an appointment or make an enquiry, please contact us by calling the respective NCCU LTD offices and Branches as follows:

i. Head Office: 255-2172

ii. Roseau: 255-2195

iii. La Salette: 255-2227, 255-2230

iv. St. Paul: 255-2213, 255-2215, 255-2218

v. Vieille Case: 255-2241

vi. St. David’s: 255-2256

vii. Castle Bruce: 255-2264, 255-2263

We also encourage our members to utilize our digital services – CU Online Services and the use of their International Debit Card. Members who currently do not possess an ATM card NCCU Ltd will be happy to assist you in obtaining one by calling 255-2126 to schedule an appointment.

NCCU is committed to assisting members through this difficult time by providing a safer way to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Members and the general public are asked to take note and be guided accordingly.





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BREAKING NEWS: Dominica imposes curfew as it tightens measures to fight coronavirus

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As the Dominica government increases measures to combat the dreaded COVID-19, Minister for Health, Wellness and  New Health Investments, Dr. Irving McIntyre has announced that curfew will go into effect from 10:00 o’clock this evening (Saturday 28th March 2020).

MacIntyre made the announcement in a live media statement a short while ago.

He said that the curfew will be in effect from Saturday 28th March, 2020 to Tuesday 31st March, 2020.

More details to come.





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