#KINGSTON, May 5 (JIS): The Government will absorb the entire cost of approximately $64 million for the mandatory State quarantining of nationals returning to Jamaica on Wednesday (May 6) under the controlled re-entry programme.
The 14-day quarantine costs US$100 per person, per day, for three daily meals and accommodation.
It is a requirement for nationals who have been stranded abroad due to Jamaica’s borders being closed to incoming passenger traffic since March 24, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the Government will only be footing the cost for this group of returning citizens in light of their various situations.
“It has… been decided by the Cabinet that in recognition of the particular challenges, the particularities of this week’s arrivals, and the circumstances under which they have been operating over the past two months, that the Government will absorb the full cost of State quarantine. So this week’s arrivals will be supported in their entirety by the Jamaican Government,” she said during a virtual press conference at Jamaica House on Monday (May 4).
Mrs. Johnson Smith stressed that this is a significant cost, which should not be downplayed, noting that “you can’t put a dollar figure on the importance of our nationals, but we are recognising that it is time and we are doing our part to have them come home”.
The returning citizens, who will arrive on a TUI Charter flight, will comprise 114 from the United Kingdom (UK), including approximately 75 crew members currently on board ships docked in the UK. These are inclusive of the 43 members of crew of the Marella Discovery 2 as well as six other ships owned by that cruise line.
The Marella Discovery 2 cruise ship was in Jamaican waters for refueling on April 2, when a request was made for the Jamaicans on board to disembark for repatriation, but the vessel left before the Government’s approval could be conveyed.
“The additional 40 [persons] will be comprised of Jamaicans stranded in the UK who have been affected by the global pandemic in different ways and who have been in touch with the High Commission or with the [Foreign Affairs] Ministry regarding their particular challenges,” Mrs. Johnson Smith said.
She informed that the Government is also working on returning a cohort from the United States “and we are focused on persons who are having the most challenging of circumstances”.
The Foreign Affairs Minister noted, however, that the $64 million does not cover the other logistical costs “such as the cost of the security forces to transport persons to the quarantine facilities, testing, the health monitoring that takes place, the temperature-taking every day at the appropriate times, the logging, and the monitoring to ensure that if there is any development of symptoms, persons are then moved to isolation facilities”/
As part of the normal arrangements, Jamaicans applying for re-entry to the country via the jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm website, are required to make a contribution of US$20 per day, which is 1/5th of the actual cost, or make arrangements in respect of meals while in State quarantine.
More than 5,000 Jamaicans have been stranded overseas due to the local border restriction. So far, over 4,600 Jamaicans have applied to return home through the jamcovid19 website.
JIS NEWS BY ALECIA SMITH
Guyana to build regional food hub
#Guyana, September 29, 2023 – Guyana is making moves to become the primary food production center for the Caribbean, going ahead with plans to develop a USD$14 million regional food hub.
In fact, as reported by the Observer, the facility has already been identified on the country’s Soesdyke /Linden Highway.
“We want Guyana to be the food hub, the primary production hub of the Caribbean so that we could supply the Caribbean. What we have, our colleagues in the Caribbean don’t have. We have arable flat land and abundant fresh water,” he said, adding that with the multi-million dollar US investment, the country can, “modernise the infrastructure, and start ramping up the productions.”
Also, the Agriculture Minister pointed out that the project is geared to make for a more competitive local Agriculture industry as well as developing high-yielding varieties, pest-resistant and climate-resilient varieties.
Additionally, in the facility’s development, Guyana, Mustapha said, will work with Belize.
In fact, with more on Belize’s involvement, Dr. Ashni Singh, Finance Minister, informed that the Government is in talks with the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley about sourcing inputs from northern Brazil and transporting them through Guyana to Barbados and vice versa.
Singh also reportedly revealed that the project will help develop the growing logistics industry in Guyana.
Considering regional food import cost, with this development, Guyana is the leading Caribbean Community country pushing ahead with plans to reduce the multi-billion dollar regional food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, the Observer says.
Cayman makes striking policy change to include more blood donors
#CaymanIslands, September 29, 2023 – The Cayman Islands overturned a policy that banned blood donation from people who visited the island from or resided in countries where “mad cow disease” existed. This was revealed by Sabrina Turner, Health Minister in Parliament, as reported by CNW Network.
People who resided in Britain from 1980 to 2001 and those who had blood transfusions in the UK after 1980, can now donate blood.
Due to recent risk evaluation, and the current protocol for blood donors, many nations, CNW reports, have re-evaluated and adjusted similar guidelines regarding blood donation, as Cayman Islands has now done.
The now initial restrictions on blood donations for the country was called for and was important as at the time of implementation, “mad cow disease” or as it’s scientifically called, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was at-large affecting not just cows, but also people, who are able to contract “a version of BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.
The likely reason for the Cayman Islands’ targeted population of those affiliated with living in the UK or getting blood transfusion in the UK, was because most of the people with vCJD lived in the UK, as highlighted by the FDA.
Also, as BBC says in a 2018 report, 1 in 2000 people in the UK is thought to be a carrier of the disease, even though some who are carriers don’t go on to develop symptoms.
However, the change in Cayman Islands’ policy does not mean the disease is no longer out there.
In fact the FDA said, “as of 2019, 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with vCJD, and unfortunately, they all have died. It is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE. Most of the people who have become sick with vCJD lived in the United Kingdom at some point in their lives. Only four lived in the U.S., and most likely, these four people became infected when they were living or traveling overseas.”
Bwa Kalé movement striking back against gangs, nearly 3,000 murdered
#Haiti, September 29, 2023 – In eight months, nearly 3,000 Haitian people have been slaughtered in their home country due to the upsurge and uprising of gangs in the republic which is struggling to hold its democracy in check.
‘Bwa Kalé’, it’s a vigilante movement that has sprung up in Haiti, and the UN says it is driving up murders.
A recent report following an expert visit detailed it.
“Certain groups have formed allegedly to protect their neighbourhoods from gangs. In some instances, these groups have summarily executed people suspected of being gang members. The Bwa Kalé movement demonstrates the population’s lack of trust in the State, especially in the police and the courts. The expert has learned that some members of the police and the judiciary have been complicit with gangs.”
Despite the obvious fear among residents, the UN is warning them not to take justice into their own hands. However, that is easier said than done as Haitians have demonstrated their feelings of abandonment by fleeing the island in mass numbers on illegal voyages and standing up to the gangs themselves.
In the same report, one said: “The State is absent, there are no police or other officials operating there.”
According to AP, a new report to the U.N. Security Council indicated that 2,728 intentional killings were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023, including 247 women, 58 boys, and 20 girls. Bwa Kalé is blamed partially for the increase, as life in the country is described as unbearable.
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