CARICOM Chair and Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley urged people of the region to take news on the coronavirus disease from official news channels only. To Ms. Mottley’s left is Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, says there is too much “fake news” going around about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and has urged people of the region to “take only official news” on the virus.

Ms. Mottley’s comments came on Wednesday night, during a press conference at the close of the 31st Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of the Caribbean Community, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

She told the local and regional media: “There is just too much fake news on this, and it is the fake news that causes people to panic; to speak out of turn; and to do the wrong things.

“To that extent, we are urging member states to ensure that there are clear communication lines.  We are urging the people of the Caribbean to take only official news on this matter.  You have governments that are going to speak clearly and frankly with you; we are not going to put the populations at risk.”

She said the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) had been on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.  She added that the Caribbean governments were happy, but not arrogant that they have been able to manage their affairs and there has not been a case of COVID-19 within the community.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister gave the assurance that the health authorities would continue to be eternally vigilant, in an effort to provide the best possible protection to populations in the region.

“Equally, we will continue to support our people who may still be in China, and to that extent, individual member states have been taking their own actions to protect them,” she assured.

Ms. Mottley noted that eight member states could now test for the virus, and pointed out that results would be made available within four hours.  

Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, hosted a press briefing at the end of the 31st Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (BGIS)

She continued: “To the extent that a member state does not have the testing capacity, we have put arrangements in place to ensure that that member state can access it as soon as possible.  Indeed, other regional intuitions have come to the aid of those member states because we truly are working together in this matter.”

She stressed that the Ministers of Health in the region would continue to have discussions on the virus for as long as was necessary.  

She noted that many of the port health officials at the borders had now been further sensitized and trained, and thus prepared to confront COVID-19.

During the two-day meeting, Ms. Mottley said Heads of Government had also expressed their empathy and support for the Government and people of China as they continued their efforts to contain the virus.

The Prime Minister told the media that the Heads took a report from the Caribbean Cardiac Society during the meeting.

She again stated that the mortality rate for MI (myocardial infarction or heart attack) in the Caribbean was significantly higher than it was in the developed world.

The CARICOM Chair noted that the Heads had mandated that they build the capacity to address the incidence of heart disease.  

Ms. Mottley disclosed that they had mandated the Secretariat, CARPHA and the Caribbean Cardiac Society to produce a draft regional strategy in an effort to reduce the mortality rate.

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