Sep 16, 2021 News
…as Region sees 100,000 new infections in past 2 ½ months
Kaieteur News – With the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic infecting some 300,000 persons in the Region leading to some 6,700 deaths, the Head of States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), during an emergency Heads of Government meeting on Monday, agreed to share excess vaccines, personal protective equipment and testing kits.
They also agreed to approach the COVAX Facility to grant the Community an exemption, which would allow vaccine doses from the Facility to be reallocated among Member States.
This much is documented in the Communiqué issued by the Heads of States and outlines that the leaders also agreed to continue to advocate for vaccine equity and access, as well as financing and debt sustainability at the United Nations General Assembly and the United States (US) Global COVID-19 Summit, both to be held later this month.
Additionally, the Heads agreed to consider the harmonisation of travel protocols, including for cruise ships.
The decisions were had, since the Heads agreed that the threat posed by the pandemic to the health, economic, education and security sectors, “was real, and called on all stakeholders to come together on this issue in the interest of the stability of the Member States and the Community.”
According to the Communiqué, the Heads of Government also met with representatives of the US and the United Kingdom (UK) to convey the gravity of the regional situation, and to make specific requests for assistance.
They requested that the US deliver the next batch of Pfizer vaccines donated to the Region earlier than originally planned and asked for field hospitals and the accompanying equipment to help ease the current strain on health facilities in Member States.
The request to the UK, according to the Communiqué, centered on the negative impacts of the ‘traffic light listing’ of countries which determines requirements for re-entry to the UK given the importance of that tourism market to the Region.
During the virtual meeting, the Heads of Government also used the occasion to express deep concern at the recent increase of more than 100,000 new cases and 1,400 deaths between July 2021 and September 12 last.
The grouping during the meeting also received an update on the pandemic from the Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr. Joy St. John, who noted that since the outbreak in March 2020, the Region has seen more than 300,000 confirmed cases with more than 6,700 deaths.
Dr. St John during the meeting stressed that the percentage of deaths “was exceedingly high among unvaccinated people with less than one percent of deaths recorded by persons who were vaccinated.”
Additionally, Heads of Government expressed dismay at the rate of vaccination in the Community and the significant incidence of vaccine hesitancy.
It was noted, that as of September 3, according to the CARPHA, vaccine coverage in the Community ranged from 58.7 percent in Bermuda to 0.1 percent in Haiti.
“The Heads of Government noted that no country was close to herd immunity and that the increased incidence of mutations and variants made it imperative for there to be a greater improvement in the rates of vaccination.”
As such, the CARICOM leaders “are strongly urging the people of the Community to get vaccinated, as failure to do so, puts the health sector at great risk of being overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases.”
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