The Antigua and Barbuda government has sought to allay the fears of the population regarding the arrival of more than 150 Chinese nationals on board a chartered flight.
A statement issued after the weekly Cabinet meeting noted that the 156 Chinese, who arrived on the island on a China Eastern Airways Charter on Wednesday “was a routine rotation of employees of CCECC- the firm which is building the (Chinese) Embassy on Marble Hill, and the Cargo Port at the Deepwater Harbour.”
The statement had noted that “social media became abuzz with speculation and false reports, which the Cabinet feels compelled to address” and noted that Foreign Minister, E.P Chet Greene, had apart from informing Cabinet on the issue, had provided a 15-minute radio interview to clear up the issue.
“The charter, following its discharge of passengers, left Antigua for China with 163 Chinese nationals on board. There was a routine rotation of employees of CCECC—the firm which is building the Embassy on Marble Hill, and the Cargo Port at the Deepwater Harbour.
“CCECC has also been involved in construction projects in Antigua for more than 35 years, including the Creekside Bridge, the Multi-purpose Center, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the V.C. Bird Air Terminal, and other construction projects,” the statement said, adding that the Chinese company is also building its Americas and Caribbean Headquarters here “to which several of the arriving workers are assigned”
It assured Antiguans that the workers arrived here with coronavirus (COVID-19) negative certificates and are being quarantined in their own quarters.
“Their documents were examined by Immigration officers without them mixing with other arrivals. The Ministry of Labour also provided the lawful coverage required, and the Ministry of Health will test all again following the two-week quarantine.
“The charter flight was arranged to avoid having the workers transit a third country, and mixing with others who may be infected,” the statement said.
Antigua and Barbuda has reported 106 COVID-19 positive cases with nine being active. There have been three deaths.