Caribbean’s risk of COVID-19 upgraded to ‘moderate-high’

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has upgraded the region’s risk of the COVID-19 virus from “low” to “moderate-high” in light of the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the region.

According to CARPHA’s executive director, Dr Joy St John, health authorities of member states must shift their mindset from preparedness to readiness and rapid response and continue to do all that is necessary to strengthen their capacity to respond to possible importation of cases.

“We have agreed to formalise our efforts and messaging through the establishment of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force (CCTTF).”

— Memorandum of Understanding

Based on this upgrade, stakeholders in the regional tourism and health sectors are in the process of implementing readiness and response measures to prevent and contain the virus.

Impact on tourism

The recently established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force, in a statement issued by the leaders of member organisations, indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed upon by the organisations to foster closer collaboration.

“Recognising the essential need to safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 threat to the Caribbean; and further recognising the importance of building upon the collaborative efforts which are already underway, and the need to pool organizational resources to do so; we have agreed to formalise our efforts and messaging through the establishment of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force (CCTTF),” the MOU reads.

The organisations acknowledged concerns about the high level of misunderstanding about the virus which has elevated the panic at the global level and resulted in the dissemination of a high level of misinformation.

The CCTTF will focus on raising awareness and sharing accurate information; strengthening monitoring at airports, seaports, and hotels and accommodations; improving coordination among stakeholder organisations and locally between tourism and health officials; sharing best practices; training, education and capacity building; and conducting tourism impact research.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean so we’ve come together as organisations already engaged in readiness programs to pool resources so we can ensure the people of our region, and our visitors, remain safe from this viral threat,” read the task force’s statement.

“Our ability to quickly contain any outbreak will be determined by how efficiently we can pool information and capacities – this agreement allows us to plan for an emergency and move our resources rapidly.”