#Jamaica – March 3, 2020 — FULL STATEMENT from MARCH 2, 2020: The new Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to more than 60 countries, fueling widespread anxiety, as many consider the implications for public health.
Here in Jamaica we understand that anxiety and wish to reassure the public that we are, even now, enhancing our readiness for the very real possibility of the virus coming to our shores.
Up to March 1, there were more than 87,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported globally and close to 3,000 deaths. Among those countries impacted are three from within the Caribbean, namely the Dominican Republic, St. Barts and St. Maarten.
So far, Jamaica has had no cases. However, we can accept, given the rate of spread, which has seen more than 30 new countries impacted in the last week alone, that Jamaica is not immune to COVID-19.
We can also accept that it is not beyond our capacity to respond and to do so effectively, in the public health interest. Such has been our history in the face of other global disease outbreaks, including H1N1, SARS and Ebola.
Against this background, Jamaica’s assault on COVID-19, for which robust and ongoing public support is critical, is happening on two fronts:
- Actions to minimize the risk of exposure among the local population; and
- Actions to enhance the capacity of the public health system to manage patients in the event that we have cases.
On MINIMISING EXPOSURE, we have, through collaboration with a wide cross-section of stakeholders from the public and private sectors,and through the adoption of a whole-of-government approach:
- Imposed travel restrictions to include five countries, among them China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran.
- Discouraged non-essential travel.
- Are patrolling irregular border crossings.
- Sensitized key personnel at all air and sea ports.
- Designated FOUR (4) quarantine facilities.
- And identified and are retrofitting isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals.
On our HEALTH SYSTEM’S READINESS, we have:
- Developed the local capacity to test for the virus, thanks to training provided by the Pan-American Health Organization.
- Assessed the readiness of our health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services.
- Are addressing existing gaps, including with respect of additional supplies and equipment, though, at the present time, we have enough personal protective equipment in the island for our health facilities. We also have adequate stores of respiratory medicine for the next three months.
- In addition, we have trained and continue to train health care providers.
These efforts are supported by a communications campaign to keep each member of the population updated on the virus and its impacts. Oversight is provided by the multi-sectoral National Disaster Risk Management Council – led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness – to which the Ministry of Health and Wellness will present a detailed response plan for approval.
Still, the success of our efforts depends on the extent to which stakeholders from the private and public sectors and indeed every individual who calls Jamaica home understand that they each have a role to play to preserve public health. This week we will also appoint a COVID-19 coordinating taskforce.
We must, therefore, work together to maintain a high level of vigilance in our surveillance and response measures. It is also now more important than ever that each of us:
- Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from persons who are coughing or sneezing.
- Frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled.
- Cover our mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then discarding it.
- And resist the habit to touch our faces.
Yes, COVID-19 is a disease that can cause death, but in the majority of cases, those affected by the virus survive. If we work together as a community, each of us doing our part, from prevention to care management, we can and will overcome this public health threat.
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Celebrates World Tourism Day
#TheBahamas, September 28, 2021 – “This year, World Tourism Day has been designated as a day to focus on inclusive growth through tourism, which is quite poignant,” said Deputy Prime Minister The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation. “Like many Caribbean destinations, tourism is the heartbeat of The Bahamas and as we say, it is everyone’s business. Our beaches are breathtaking, and the water is so clear you can see it from space, but that is not what defines us. Rather, it is every individual person who shapes the Bahamas experience and stands to benefit from tourism’s success. I am committed to creating jobs and opportunities for all Bahamians and to help our great nation heal.”
As international travel restrictions begin to ease, spurred by an increase in vaccine accessibility, The Bahamas is well positioned for continued recovery. A rise in scheduled airlift combined with the return of the cruise industry is contributing to a positive increase in visitor numbers, leading to nearly 500,000 visitors over the first six months of the year.
“While we have faced an uphill battle during these unprecedented times, we must stay focused and optimistic as the world begins to reopen,” noted the Deputy Prime Minister. “I join with leaders throughout the Caribbean to elevate the importance of social inclusion, sustainability and smart destinations and businesses. Our beautiful country, and our beloved Caribbean region, will prosper again and continue to progress, as in the words of the motto of The Bahamas: Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”
Photo Credit: Sandals.com
Bahamas Prime Minister Speaks at 76th Session of UN General Assembly
SATURDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2021
“Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to
the needs of the planet, respect the rights of
people and revitalize the United Nations” Introduction
#TheBahamas, September 26, 2021 – Esteemed Colleague Heads of State and Heads of Government, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres;
President of the General Assembly, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives:
On September 16th, Bahamian citizens took to the polls to make their voices heard. It is an honour to meet with you fewer than ten days after this peaceful exercise of the democratic process.
I wish to extend congratulations to the
Maldives, a sister Small Island Developing State, on their election to the helm of this General Assembly. Know that you will find The Bahamas to be a strong, engaged and thoughtful partner for the road ahead.
We also congratulate Secretary-General Gutteres on his re-election to a second term, and wish him every success.
Colleagues, we are meeting at a most extraordinary time. We come here from different corners of the earth, with our theme — “building resilience through hope” – reflecting our shared determination to pivot from crisis to opportunity.
These crises are inter-connected and multifaceted, and need a global response. We must collaborate to end the Covid-19 pandemic and address public health issues.
We must co-operate to mitigate the effects of climate change.
And access to development financing must be equitable and fair.
An inadequate response to these issues will have dire consequences for the global economy.
Collaborating to End the Pandemic
The world has changed enormously since we first learned about the COVID-19 virus.
This crisis made abundantly clear what has always been true: we’re all in this together.
In every country, we have lost loved ones. We have seen our healthcare workers battle bravely. We have contended with disruption, uncertainty, and grief.
We have benefited from extraordinary cooperation and achievements in science, but we also had to contend with misinformation and disinformation, and insufficient attempts to curb bad actors propagating the same. Bad information has flowed across borders, undermining public health and public trust.
The pandemic has been very difficult for countries like mine. We face an extraordinary need for new resources in health and education and housing just as our economy is contracting dramatically.
Our inter-connected world means that we will only be safe when all countries, including mine, have the tools needed to fight this virus.
This requires the equitable distribution of vaccines. That includes distribution to Small Island Developing States, who are not manufacturers. Stockpiling for self-preservation is a fallacy.
You will only be safe when we are all safe!
I wish to thank the Government and People of the United States for their donations of vaccines to The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region.
This gift, alongside donations received previously from India, China, Antigua & Barbuda, and Dominica, will save many Bahamian lives. This is in addition to the ongoing support of PAHO, CARPHA and the COVAX facility and the regional collaboration among CARICOM countries.
But this is still not enough. We need more. Our demand for vaccines has significantly outstripped supply.
Along with vaccines, it is important that safe treatments and therapeutics, are made accessible and designated as public goods. We need to fortify critical global supply chains, and distribution mechanisms, so that we can win this battle, and be better prepared for the next one. You will only be safe, when we are all safe! The Bahamas joins those reiterating the need to fully fund the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’ and its COVAX facility. And we reiterate our alignment with CARICOM’s call for continued high-level engagement to urgently address access to vaccines.
When vaccines are deployed to reduce transmission, everyone is made safer – not just the direct recipient. We can, by doing so, reduce the opportunities for new and more dangerous variants to emerge. This virus is global and requires a global response. COP26 Matters/ Disasters Response
Colleagues, even before COVID-19 shut down my country’s borders, we were dealing with a catastrophic shock to our economy and our country.
Two years ago this month, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic caused catastrophic damage to our islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Hurricane Dorian was strengthened by waters that were well above average temperatures; the earth’s changing climate means that hurricanes like Dorian linger longer and cause more damage.
The devastation caused by this storm is part of our country’s landscape; the physical and emotional wreckage are still with us.
Recently I spoke with a woman who lost her husband and her three children in the storm. Every rainfall is a reminder of the horror. How can we continue to do nothing in the face of such tragedy?
The very worst thing about Dorian is our sense of foreboding – our sense that this hurricane, which took so much from so many – is only the beginning.
None of us believe this is a once-in-a-generation storm. Instead, we know it is a nightmare that could easily recur – tomorrow, next week, next month.
To any leader who believes we still have plenty of time to address climate change, I invite you to visit Abaco and Grand Bahama.
For island nations such as ours, climate change is here. And is a real and present danger.
Before Hurricane Dorian in 2019, we faced hurricanes: in 2015, in 2016, and in 2017. We cannot survive this “new normal”.
Thus, we are not here to call for measured steps. We are here to say that big and radical change is the only response that can save our country. We are out of time.
We stand with CARICOM countries and Small Island Developing States to remind the world that those who are hit hardest by the impact of climate change, are the least responsible.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report warned that avoiding the worst outcomes requires immediate action; this is, as the Secretary-General noted, a ‘Code Red’ moment.
Our countries disproportionately bear the burden of the “Recovery Trap”, in which we attempt to rebuild to the tune of billions – billions we never had, even before COVID.
Colleagues, in a few short weeks, we will meet in Glasgow, Scotland.
The 26th Climate Change Conference cannot be like the twenty-five that preceded it – we cannot pretend that incremental change is sufficient. We cannot set goals we have no intention of meeting. We cannot keep postponing the change we need for countries like mine to survive.
If we are the serious leaders these times require, we must raise our ambitions, and make real commitments to cut emissions.
We must make real progress on bridging the divides in investment, and access-to-technology and skills, especially in areas relevant to climate mitigation and adaptation.
We must strengthen technical assistance for creating, nationally-determined contribution (NDC) commitments, along with commensurate ‘implementation financing’.
We must give teeth and substance to the mechanism for loss and damage if it is to be a meaningful tool for supporting fair recovery, and not simply an exercise in defining and highlighting disaster risk.
The Bahamas calls for greater climate financing and the need for more engagement and progress on a Climate Investment Platform.
And, as a matter of priority, more innovative financing and debt solutions are needed, including debt for climate adaptation swaps. We also look forward to the capitalization of a Caribbean Resilience Fund. We also need adequate resourcing and timely access to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ and the ‘Climate Finance Accelerator’.
In our just-concluded campaign, we called for new renewable energy initiatives in our own country. We are going to build structural and economic resilience, in a green recovery, with plans to invest in climate-smart infrastructure and environmental protection.
The Bahamas will lead on wetland and ocean preservation, and we will seek re-election to the International Maritime Organization. We look forward to the Biodiversity Conference
next month; we are committed to the successful conclusion of negotiations towards an international treaty to conserve marine bio-diversity. Advancing an MVI/ Affordable, Accessible Development Financing
Colleagues, the compounding impact of economic, environmental, and now public health shocks, means that access to affordable finance will be the real driver of progress in the near and long term.
The global development financing gap for meeting Sustainable Development Goals by
2030, estimated in 2019 to be $2.5 trillion, is only increasing.
Today we reiterate our country’s support for the inclusion of a Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index in the decision-making of international financial institutions, and the international donor community.
On a related front, we believe that access to the global financial system and tax cooperation should not be undermined: by ad hoc and consistently shifting and arbitrary goal posts, and threats of exclusion from the global economy.
Financial Services is a crucial component of the Bahamian economy. We see an indispensable role for the UN in leveraging its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global antimoney laundering, de-risking and tax cooperation matters.
On a separate note, I wish to convey The Bahamas’ rejection of the ongoing economic blockade of our sister Caribbean nation of Cuba.
As I conclude, I recall the words of our nation’s first Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, as he stood here 48 years ago this month, on the occasion of our nation’s accession to the United Nations.
He spoke about the journey of our people, from slavery to colonialism to sovereign independence.
He spoke of our country’s wish to be neither dominated nor coerced, and our wish to build friendships with nations who respected our freedom.
He could not have foreseen at that time the challenges we face today, with intensifying hurricanes and a deadly virus that has left no nation untouched. But he saw already that “no nation is an island unto itself” and spoke of the interdependence of all countries. That interdependence has never been clearer.
Rest assured, colleagues, that in The Bahamas you will find a trusted partner, committed to moving forward on our collective goals for sustainable development, security, and peace.
World Tourism Day Message from Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)
#Miami, September 26, 2021 – We at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are pleased to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in marking World Tourism Day 2021 (September 27) under the theme of “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
The theme is particularly relevant this year because all areas of our destinations across the Caribbean have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related disasters. Our sector, which attracts precious foreign exchange revenues, has suffered grievously, and as a result, the economies and the people of our region have been enormously impacted.
This is why we welcome this year’s theme. Tourism is the major breadwinner for the Caribbean, and whatever affects tourism affects the region as a whole. So as an association of private sector tourism and business stakeholders we are pleased to support and participate actively in the continued drive to return our sector back to its diverse, dynamic pre-COVID state and jumpstarting its recovery with the particular focus on inclusive growth.
Tourism and hospitality especially have a unique capacity to drive development which is diverse, inclusive and sustainable. No other sector can promote the aspirations of locals for lives of dignity, economic independence, and respect as effectively as tourism. Its links to almost all areas of society make the inclusive development of tourism a major, if not the most important, priority for countries, territories, and regional and international organizations.
A thriving tourism sector feeds and nourishes so many other stakeholders and this is especially so in the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism-dependent region. We see this in abundance throughout the region as a growing number of Caribbean nationals have aspired to positions of top management and ownership in tourism-related businesses and the many other enterprises in their communities which are made possible due to the cascading impact of visitor spending.
CHTA members and associates are well rooted in their respective locales and are able to quickly ascertain the needs of their surrounding communities. Indeed, tourism contributes to all the Sustainable Development Goals identified by United Nations member countries, spanning economic growth, food security, consumption and production as well as the responsible use of oceans and marine resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters have ruptured social and economic activities with marginalized groups, with the most vulnerable being hit hardest of all.
As we saw in New York after the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001, and we have witnessed repeatedly following hurricanes and other crises in our region over the past 50 years, tourism is the sector which bounces back the quickest from adversity, so the focus on returning travel and tourism to its dynamism will help all other parts of the economy and society as a whole.
The full restart of tourism will be the speediest and most productive way to recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly, and no one is left behind.
On World Tourism Day, CHTA is honored to participate with our public sector partner, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, leaders from government, the private sector and non-governmental, academic, health and media organizations for a day-long virtual conference on the future of Caribbean tourism.
The virtual conference brings together tourism leaders to highlight the challenges, successes and best practices on “The Future of Caribbean Tourism – Redefining the three S’s” – social inclusion, sustainability, and smart destinations and businesses.
This impressive collaboration among the region’s major stakeholders supports our mission to address unique challenges presented by the pandemic and build the capacity of tourism-related businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses and budding entrepreneurs, to survive and thrive into the future.
We anticipate recovering and rebounding better and stronger as we move forward together.
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