GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders on Monday discussed proposals for dealing with the possibility of responding to a hurricane within the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat.
It said that the leaders at their 11th Special Meeting held by video conference on Monday “recognised that such an occurrence would add a significant layer of complexity and would have an impact on regional response efforts”.
The Secretariat said that the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) made presentations to the meeting which was presided over by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves,, who is also the chairman of the 15-member grouping.
“The Heads of Government noted that countries in the region had already been grappling with a multi-hazard scenario since January 2020. This included a drought in some States which, according to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), has persisted since 2019 and the COVID-19 outbreak,” the statement noted.
It said that the regional leaders also stressed the “need for continued vigilance of the Health and Border Authorities to prevent more importation of new cases of COVID-19.
“This needs to be matched by heightened national surveillance to prevent the establishment of the community transmission of the disease. They agreed to encourage the enforcement of protocols for public health measures to reduce the risk of closure of key sectors and loss of life.
“In acknowledging the progress of the COVID-19 Tourism Task Force in developing tourism guidelines and training workers, Heads of Government agreed to support approaches that promote testing before travellers leave the sending countries as well as testing on arrival in the member state. This would promote sustainability of the return of safe tourism in CARICOM.”
The statement said that the leaders have since mandated CARPHA to prepare a framework for the protocols to operate a bubble within the region to facilitate travel and boost domestic tourism.