NOTE: As we prepare to “go to press”, the first two cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the Caribbean have been confirmed on the island of French Saint Martin. These persons are currently in isolation at the hospital on the French side and will remain there for 14-days according to the Prefecture. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Sunday morning activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in connection with two on French Saint Martin, and screening processes at the ports of entry have been stepped up in cooperation with the airlines who are also following their own screening protocols based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, reports government officials.
The leaders of the Caribbean tourism and health sectors are working together to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the region, and have implemented readiness and response measures to prevent and contain the virus.
The recently established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force comprises representatives from CARPHA, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC).
Due to the current increased risk of importation of COVID-19 to the region, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has upgraded the risk of Coronavirus disease transmission from “low” to “moderate to high”.
In a statement issued by the leaders of the task force member organizations, they indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed upon by the organizations to foster closer collaboration.
Acknowledging concerns that the high level of misunderstanding about the virus has elevated the panic at the global level and resulted in the dissemination of a high level of misinformation, the CCTTF will focus on raising awareness and sharing accurate information; strengthening monitoring at airports, seaports, and hotels and accommodations; improving coordination among stakeholder organizations and locally between tourism and health officials; sharing best practices; training, education and capacity building; and conducting tourism impact research.
The establishment of the Caribbean COVID-19 Tourism Task Force follows a Special Emergency Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government with health and tourism officials and cruise associations in Barbados last weekend, where they agreed to set up a regional protocol with the cruise industry.