Canada-based airline, Sunwing, returned to Antigua last Saturday and the airline will be operating weekly flights to the island from Toronto.
Minister of Tourism, Charles “Max” Fernandez delivered the news about the return of Sunwing in a news release in which he lamented the decision of US-based carrier, JetBlue, to cancel flights to Antigua and Barbuda, a move that is being viewed as yet another blow to Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism prospects.
JetBlue indicated it is mostly cutting routes it had added during the pandemic in the hope of luring passengers even as the number of flights had dropped.
About 65 percent of the slashed routes are to Latin America and the Caribbean.
In a recent statement, the Tourism minister said the move by the airline affects a number of destinations and was not a direct indictment against Antigua and Barbuda.
Barbados says travelers will be allowed to enter the island with a valid negative Rapid PCR COVID-19 test result, 24 hours prior to arrival, or a negative Standard RT-PCR COVID-19 test result within three days prior to their arrival.
A government statement said the new measures which went into effect earlier this month said that the accepted tests include those which were taken at an accredited or recognized laboratory by a healthcare provider.
“LAMP tests, self-administered tests or home kits and tests using saliva samples will not be accepted,” the statement said, as authorities also announced the digitization of contact tracing through the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Barbados Exposure Notification App (BENApp).
The government said the free, anonymous contact tracing and symptoms-monitoring app is designed to assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
It said the BENApp will notify persons if they have been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and has the app running.
Barbados has so far recorded 270 deaths and more than 35,000 positive cases.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CD-PMN) said that many Caribbean countries will be starting the new season “with a deficit in water resources” as the region continues to be affected by a “relatively dry” period.
CDPMN said that short-term drought “might develop or continue” in Barbados, Dominica, southern Dominican Republic, northern Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, the USVI and St. Kitts.
Among the countries likely to be affected by the long-term drought in the Eastern Caribbean include Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with the CDPM also advising “all stakeholders to keep monitoring their environment for signs of drought.”
The CDPMN said that the “greatest concerns over long-term drought that can negatively impact large rivers and reservoirs and ground water by the end of May 2022, exist over southern Belize, western Cuba and the US Virgin Islands.”
CS Global Partners, London-based government advisory and marketing firm, has ranked Dominica as one of the safest places in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Taking into account data from the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2021 and World Governance Indicators (WGI), CS Global Partners said its World Citizenship Report (WCR) ranks the “Nature Isle” third in the region with a score of 77.3 “bringing it to the 33rd safest place in the international arena.”
According to CS Global Partners, the report acknowledges recent weather storms in the Caribbean “but gave Dominica a high standing due to authorities prioritizing the rapidly development climate-resilient infrastructure on the island.”
“The region has also placed emphasis on physical safety, rule of law and political stability,” the report said.
“Dominica ranks high in categories like voice and accountability, where citizens feel empowered to hold leaders accountable to their demands and needs.”
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program, the WCR placed Dominica in the top 30 percent of 188 of the world’s jurisdictions, CS Global Partners said.
Social Development Minister, Delmar Thomas has tested positive for COVID-19 even as the island reported several people diagnosed with the virus are under the age of 18.
Grenada’ has reported 8, 601 cases and 201 deaths since March 2020 and health authorities said there are 2, 286 active cases because of the Omicron variant which has sparked a second wave during the just-ended Christmas season.
Thomas, writing in her Facebook page, said: “After working in the frontline at most pop-up clinics and visiting the hospital and not getting COVID-19, I have just tested positive for the virus,” Thomas, who is asthmatic and fully vaccinated, said her symptoms are a slight sore throat and stuffy nose and that she had “contracted the virus from her husband” a police officer, who was diagnosed with the virus a few days earlier.
Thomas, who has responsibility for hospital services, is the first government minister to disclose that she had tested positive.
Health authorities say several people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with the virus.
Guyana says it has been able to expand its market share in the sale of rice with the country being able to sell the product in three new countries including two in Europe.
Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha said Guyana is now providing British Virgin Islands (BVI), Estonia and Slovenia with rice since last year and remains optimistic that the demand will heighten this year as government intends to increase investments in the sector.
Guyana said that notwithstanding the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the devastating floods in May and June, revenue from the industry was estimated at US$201million with approximately 434, 535 tons of rice being exported.
A government statement said the agriculture sector was also able to contribute some GUY$2.6 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 from the exportation of non-traditional crops.
After months of consultations with stakeholders and uncertainty, the T&T Government has given the green light for Carnival safe-zone events to be held next month despite a surge in deaths and positive COVID-19 cases which saw a record 2,063 cases over a 48-hour period last week
In a release last week, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said only concert-type events would be allowed.
These would include soca and calypso concerts, calypso tents, soca, calypso, extempo, and chutney competitions, steel and concerts, Carnival King and Queen shows and Carnival theatre.
However, no fetes and parties will be allowed because of the risk of increased spread of COVID-19.
It said events will be limited to only fully vaccinated people (staff, patrons, service providers, artistes), at 50 percent capacity, with controlled entry and exit points, and sanitisation upon entry in accordance with the public health regulations.
Minister of Tourism, Randall Mitchell said: “This move represents a first step in restarting the events sector. Given the economic importance of Carnival, we felt it was necessary to consider what was possible and what events can be held safely.”
The National Carnival Association has proposed a three-week Carnival period starting Feb. 4.
—Compiled by Azad Ali