#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2021 – The appearance of variants is part of the normal cycle of viral infection and replication and should not be considered an unusual process. Because the variants appear more frequently the more subjects become infected, it is essential to maintain all the measures that prevent the occurrence of new infections (use of masks, washing hands, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc.).
The appearance of new variants does not justify in any way the interruption of the vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2. Cutting the transmission chains through preventive measures and the application of vaccines should be the primary objective at this stage of pandemic. Both the measures mentioned above, and the mass vaccination of the population will help in the fight against the disease and the eventual end of the pandemic.
CARPHA remains committed to providing technical support and advice and continues to conduct tests for suspected COVID-19 cases for all CARPHA Member States (CMS) routinely as requested. In collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus, CARPHA started conducting whole genome sequencing for CARICOM countries in December 2020. So far CARPHA has detected cases of the UK variant in several member states. No cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected.
Earlier today, CARPHA met with the Region’s Chief Medical Officers to discuss several public health issues, including those related to the fight against COVID-19 disease.
CARPHA continues to work with its regional and international partners and CMS, towards a harmonised regional response. The overarching goal is for all countries to control the pandemic by slowing down the transmission of disease and reducing mortality associated with COVID-19. In this regard, we urge countries to continue ramping up their surveillance capacity to rapidly screen, identify, test, isolate and trace contacts of new cases supported by public health prevention and control measures of social distancing, wearing of masks, and hand hygiene.
We also recognise the important role that the vaccination programmes will play and are quite pleased with the efforts of the countries so far in vaccinating the vulnerable older persons in their population and front-line workers.
Jamaica Rum Festival Endorsed
#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, endorsed this year’s fourth staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James, on Saturday (June 25).
Ms. Grange, who officially opened the event, noted that rum, and spirits in general, has deep cultural significance in Jamaica, spanning centuries.
“From the cane fields, where our enslaved ancestors worked, through to today, where we have the best rum in the world… we have a lot to be proud of,” she added.
For his part, Tourism Director, Donovan White, commended the organisers of the festival, which attracted a significant number of patrons, including visitors from overseas. He said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), was pleased to be a partner in the event that showcased top quality products by local rum purveyors.
Minister Grange, representatives from the Tourism Ministry’s agencies, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, were presented with limited edition Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.
Contact; Okoye Henry
Education Ministry Recommits to Expanding Uniformed Groups in Schools
#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools. This is in keeping with its thrust to fulfill this mission under the Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has said. She further noted that “it is a part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”
Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday (June 26). The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.
Mrs. Williams remarks came against the background of what she said were “heightened concerns” in recent months over incidents of violence in schools across Jamaica and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic and character education for students. She noted that several initiatives within the Ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, among them support for uniformed groups in schools.
“The Ministry has been supporting uniformed youth groups in the development of a Three-Year Strategic Plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups which will, at one and the same time, advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the Ministry to these groups,” Mrs. Williams added.
The Minister pointed out that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys Brigade, Cub Scouts, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades.”
“It has been well-established that students who participate in clubs are more out-going as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and team-work are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting,” she stated.
Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.
“Uniformed youth groups represent a cohort of the nation’s youth that is organised around a set of core values, such as honour, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual fortitude,” the Minister emphasised.
She noted that while most are based in schools, units may also be organised at church and community levels.
“Indeed, we know that the church has been a main source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is, over the past few years, there has not been as robust an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Mrs. Williams indicated.
She said it was acknowledged that the society’s youth now have many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value in participating in groups such as these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders.
The Minister also noted that older and more traditional groups, such as Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, are international in scope and maintain linkages with the worldwide movements.
“Support from these fraternal organisations has, however, diminished over the years, and local organisations must find the resources to sustain operations and pay the required affiliation fees. So once again, it is important that we, in the local community, pitch in to provide the needed support,” she added.
In this regard, the Minister commended members of the uniformed groups and CVSS for ongoing efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.
Further, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at the regional and international levels.
“We, as a collective, continue to dedicate ourselves to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible to become productive members of society,” Mrs. Williams stated.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh
Anguilla Economic Affairs Minister Quits; calling it a conscience move
By Shanieka Smith
#Anquilla, June 27, 2022 – After penning a three-page resignation letter to Premier Ellis Lorenzo Webster, the Minister of Economic Development, Commerce, Information Technology and Natural Resources, Kyle Hodge has officially resigned from the Anguilla Progressive Movement (APM).
“I am submitting this letter of resignation because my conscience and commitments to the people of Anguilla no longer permit me to serve as a member of the Anguilla Progressive Movement and minister of government in your administration,” he wrote.
Included in his letter are his reasons for resigning and that entails his concerns on Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is scheduled to come into Force on July 1, the lack of organised leadership, and the lack of party structure.
“I believe that my dissenting vote on the Good and Services Tax (GST) marked the initial fraying of our relationship; since then we have not been on the same page. There is a mutual lack of trust and understanding and most importantly, our goals for the Anguillan people have fully diverged and there is little common ground,” said the resigned minister.
He also shared his concern regarding the approach and tone of the government towards Anguillans.
“Politics in Anguilla must change and it actually started when the people demanded more of use and I am very comfortable with that demand. You deserve nothing less,” said Hodge in a Facebook post. He also thanked the people who have supported him in his decision to resign.
Hodge added that he will continue to serve the people who elected him since he will still be a member of the House of Assembly.
He said, “my resignation today does not mean GST disappears, so let us continue to unite our efforts to either make it more palatable or find other ways to collect the revenue that is needed to run the country. I wish the entire government a healthy and prosperous term in office. I also take this time to commend you for the relief package granted to the people of Anguilla as we deal with hyperinflation in Anguilla.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Commerce, Natural Resources and Information Technology. I wish you the very best politically and otherwise.”
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