Prime Minister of Barbados and Chairman of CARICOM, Mia Amor Mottley, has described the effects of the coronavirus on this island and the region as “the most destabilizing event”, probably since World War II.
Her comments came yesterday as she spoke with renowned international journalist Christiane Amanpour on CNN International (CNNI) about the impact of COVID-19 across the Caribbean and the strategies being implemented to mitigate against its effects.
With regard to the pandemic’s deleterious effects on the region, Ms. Mottley added that the nations of the Caribbean occupied a unique position, and were subject to a number of risks, since they could be seen as the most highly indebted, travel and trade dependent nations in the world, with almost half of GDP coming directly and indirectly from tourism.
Against this backdrop, she stated that Barbados, other Caribbean islands and those in the Pacific were particularly vulnerable at this stage as a result of the virus and stressed that global leadership was needed now more than ever if recovery and economic stability were to be realized.
Concerning the question of what would happen to Barbados and other islands of the region if the pandemic continued, the Prime Minister pointed out that healthcare systems in the region had been repurposed in order to effectively deal with the crisis and “to stay ahead of the curve”, but she described having to shut down the country as “quite traumatic economically”.
“To have a hotel with no revenue coming in; to have no airplanes landing from Jamaica and The Bahamas in the north, right down to Barbados and Trinidad to the south; these things are having a devastating impact, particularly on the smaller islands in the eastern Caribbean and to a lesser extent Barbados. So, we have now to see how we can hold our people up because if you don’t have a successful neighborhood all of us are at risk in terms of public health; all of us are at risk in terms of lack of security; all of us are at risk in terms of migration.
“So, that we really, really need to be able to understand that this is about lives and livelihoods; this is about staving off the pandemic, but it is also about keeping people fed and keeping people being able to live,” she stressed.
Ms. Mottley noted that Barbados had approximately 80 cases, with about seven deaths, and just under 40 persons recorded as having recovered from the virus.
During the 10-minute interview, which was broadcast via Skype, issues highlighted included climate change and women as global leaders. Footage of Barbadians practising social distancing was also shown.