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Caricom, Canadian public health sector officials to meet


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Public health officials from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) are to meet with their counterparts from Canada as the region begins the process of reopening its borders to allow international travel back into the Caribbean, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has said.

Mottley, the chairperson of the 15-member regional integration grouping, told the Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on Tuesday night that she had written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeking Ottawa’s assistance in urging Canadians to visit the region in the post-COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have actually written your prime minister on behalf of the Caribbean Community…and as you know, most of our countries in the community are travel- and tourism-dependent, and what we have asked for is for discussions between our public health officials and your public health officials so that we can ensure that we satisfy them, the scientists, that we are taking as many precautions that we can take to ensure that for your citizens and for our citizens the levels of safety are appropriate,” Mottley said.

Asked what has been the response from Trudeau, she replied: “We are hoping that we can have those discussions very soon, but I can’t give you an exact date at this point in time.”

Caricom countries have recorded more than 5,000 positive cases and several deaths as a result of the virus that was first detected in China last December, which has, to date, caused the deaths of 432,000 people and infected eight million worldwide.

The regional countries are now at various stages of reopening their economies and borders and Mottley said that Barbados is still holding discussions among stakeholders on the issue.

But she told the CBC that “one of the difficulties relates to the fact that the airlines do not want to test themselves, at all.

“So testing either has to take place at an accredited lab before people travel or when people land,” she said, noting it is easier to work with charters in that respect because “they have more easily accepted the need for tests that are appropriately validated by either WHO [World Health Organization] or PAHO [Pan American Health Organization] or the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] in the US, or whoever is the appropriate registry entity.

“But once we can get that, we can then maintain the levels of safety for those who are visiting and as more important for those who are working and those who are on island.

“We need a win-win for everybody,” Mottley told television viewers in Canada.

During the interview, Mottley said that Barbados would be supporting Canada’s election for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Canada comes up against Norway and Ireland for the rotating seat and Mottley said, “ Barbados and Canada have had a long relationship.

“We share common values and we have been working together on a number of things. We do not always agree on everything, but for the most part the common platform of values helps us agree on most things, and we, as a country, has made a very clear determination, we will be supporting your country; we see you as family,” Mottley said.

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