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Thursday, May 07, 2020

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC)— Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have “noted; recommendations from a Regional Working Group as they continued their efforts to harmonise their responses to and policies on the multifaceted impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)," according to a statement issued by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat on Thursday.

The statement, which followed the continuation of the virtual 10th Special Emergency Meeting of the regional leaders on Tuesday, said that the CARICOM leaders welcomed a presentation from the Regional Working Group which indicated that the pandemic was largely contained in the region “due to the decisive action by governments to put restrictions in place.

“They also noted the emphasis by the Group that re-opening by the member states must be done with the health consideration being the foremost criterion.”

The Regional Working Group included officials from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The statement said that the group offered recommendations for a common public health policy, including “parameters for the easing of restrictions in member states that would allow for a re-opening in phases”.

The statement said the recommendations also included suggested criteria for a protocol on the re-opening of airports for intra-regional travel ad that the draft policy will be resubmitted to regional leaders for final approval.

The statement said that the CARICOM leaders during the meeting on Tuesday “recognised the need to pool their efforts at procurement of medical devices and supplies in the context of COVID-19 in order to more easily gain access to supplies and achieve economies of scale.

It said that this system would utilise the existing structures of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (PPS).

“The Heads of Government also endorsed the regional COVID-19 Agri-Food Security Action Plan to strengthen the Region's food security in the face of the threat posed by the pandemic. The Plan was developed by agriculture stakeholders, including the private sector.”

The statement noted that the need for a common protocol for the re-opening of regional airports to flights from selected third countries and the re-opening of hotels was also discussed and in that regard, the leaders have established a sub-committee led by St Lucia's Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to hold discussions with stakeholders in the tourism industry.

The statement said that the meeting with hoteliers, airlines, cruise operators and the labour unions will “settle the appropriate protocols needed to ensure safety for workers and visitors upon re-opening of the sector” and that “this would be informed by the regional public health policy”.

The regional leaders stressed their determination to speak to the cruise and airline industries with one voice.

The statement said the regional leaders have also agreed to meet “in the coming weeks to discuss the financial and economic challenges related to the impact of the pandemic”.

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