BROWNE DEFENDS CARICOM’S STANCE

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ebola fight

-non admittance of nationals coming from Ebola affected states.

 

Prime Minister of Antigua/Barbuda, Gaston Browne, on Monday defended the decision by a number of CARICOM countries to impose a travel ban on nationals from three West African countries because of the deadly Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people.

Browne, who also serves as the CARICOM Secretary, warned that these restrictions were necessary. “Even if we end up with a single case of Ebola, it has serious consequences for our tourism product. Most of our countries are dependent on tourism and I can assure you that if any of our respective countries has a single case of Ebola then you can see potentially maybe a 30 to 50 per cent drop in tourism. That means immense hardship for our people.”

Several Caribbean countries – including Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and Suriname – have implemented restrictions on passengers travelling from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as a result of the virus for which there is no known cure. Browne said CARICOM states need to go the extra mile to ensure that the virus is proactively managed as it has the potential to have grave consequences, compared to other developed countries like the United States.

The CARICOM chairman acknowledged that the Caribbean is at a higher risk, given the presence of the virus in the United States, but he says his country and others are implementing other measures to detect and, if necessary, treat the virus. Such measures include the sourcing of protective wear and infrared thermometers.

Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, says the country is taking the necessary precautions to handle the Ebola virus should any case be recorded there. Dr Sealy-Thomas said the country already has personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the Pan-American Health Organisation. Since the virus’ outbreak, local health care officials have taken the suits out of storage to assess their condition and to check their viability.

She added that health care workers, including nurses and emergency medical technicians, have already been trained in infection control, but Ebola-specific training has been implemented. Ebola-specific training commenced two weeks ago and has included practitioners form both public and private medical facilities.

Extracted and Modified from Caribbean 360

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