CARICOM Member States must be fully prepared to deal with any outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
This was emphasized by Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, as he spoke to members of the media at the close of the 8th Special Emergency Meeting of the Caribbean Community at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
He said that the region had moved now from a state of mitigation to one of adapting, which entailed building capacity in the reality that one day, the region would have to manage a case of COVID-19.
Mr. Joseph said that he was particularly pleased with the commitment demonstrated by the cruise industry to maintain clear lines of communication among Member States and to ensure that pre-boarding screening was done in an extensive and effective way.
“This type of information will assist not only tourism but the ministries of health to be able to make speedy decisions that would not delay the execution of the ships entering the ports and departing as well.
“We want to recognize the important role of PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) in this process and the different states in CARICOM are critical in terms of us building capacity and being able to play a role in ensuring that we create a balance between the needs of protecting our peoples’ health and ensuring that we continue to grow this vital industry in the region,” he added.
Other organizations playing critical roles in surveillance were the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
He also mentioned that CDEMA, as well as CARICOM and IMPACS, had an important role to play in strengthening the region’s capacity.
At the end of the special emergency meeting, Heads of Government adopted a protocol drafted by PAHO to deal with COVID-19, which defines roles and responsibilities and seeks to ensure that there is effective communication among stakeholders with respect to decisions.