CARICOM develops protocol to fight Coronavirus
Prime Minister of St Lucia Allan Chastanet, is flanked by Dr Simone Keizer-Beache (left) Chief Medical Officer, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dr Sharon Belmar-George, Chief Medical Officer, St Lucia.
Front Page
March 3, 2020

CARICOM develops protocol to fight Coronavirus

by Bria King

If the region is to effectively tackle the growing spread of the coronavirus, countries must build their capacity to detect, manage and contain the virus.

An emergency meeting of the conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held on Sunday, March 1 in Barbados, where a regional protocol was developed to deal with COVID 19 — coronavirus.

Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados and current chair of CARICOM

This meeting was convened to discuss the spread of COVID—19, which has reportedly made its way into the Caribbean, with the first case being detected in the Dominican Republic.

“We can manage this as well, but it is going to require cooperation, partnership, discipline, and communication in order for us to … detect, contain and manage the process,” Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados and current chair of CARICOM said at Sunday’s meeting.

Mottley said the meeting was called not only to define the responsibilities and obligations from key stakeholders including member countries and health agencies but also to address the issue of capacity.

She said that reports from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) show that it is well within the region’s capacity to manage and contain a virus once it is detected.

And she used Zika, Chikungunya and H1N1, viruses that have affected the region previously, as examples.

Mottley proffered that if those can be effectively managed, then so too can the coronavirus.

Sunday’s meeting was attended by various stakeholders including Heads of governments and representatives of member states, as well as representatives from CARPHA; PAHO; Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

Representatives of the leadership of the Cruise Ship industry and their representative bodies, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Associate (FCCA) and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) were also present.

Mottley said that the result of conversations led to the establishment of a framework for an expanded Bureau of heads of government.

And this was done so that the Bureau can immediately work to see how they can gather the necessary resources.

“…Whether from our partners at the travel and tourism industry, from our partners in the international financial institutions, or regional financial institutions, or our local and regional private sector, in order to be able to increase our capacity to contain and manage any outbreak,” she explained.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua are a part of the expanded Bureau.

And the chairman said that the Bureau will start work immediately to see how they can partner with CARPHA and PAHO and stakeholders so that they can marshal resources necessary to immediately meet regional and national concerns.

Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves; chief medical officer, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache; and medical officer of Health, Dr Roger Duncan represented St Vincent and the Grenadines at the emergency meeting.

Many present lauded the commitment and communication of countries and stakeholders to work together and communicate effectively in an effort to tackle the growing issue.

The regional protocol developed is critical to avoid an outbreak of panic and fear in the region and the CARICOM chair said that leaders are prepared to protect the region’s interest at all times.
But countries must work together to get through this time.