Prime Minister Gaston Browne says has no problem being the first person in Antigua and Barbuda to take the vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) as other regional countries recorded deaths and more positive cases of the virus that has killed 1.32 million and infected 54.4 million others worldwide since last December.
Last week, the US-based drug manufacturer, Pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 and while precise details are not yet clear, it appears unlikely that large numbers of people won’t be vaccinated until 2021.
There are a number of people both in the Caribbean and further afield who are against any form of vaccine. The British Labour Party is calling for the introduction of Emergency laws to “stamp out dangerous” anti-vaccine content online.
The party is also calling for financial and criminal penalties for social media firms that do not remove false scare stories about vaccines.
“I will avail myself as the first recipient of the vaccine in order to encourage Antiguans and Barbudans to do likewise,” Prime Minister Browne said.
“If other countries are doing it and then they normalise, then let’s say the majority of our population were to resist the vaccine and people remain vulnerable to COVID, then what would happen is that we may see an increase in the prevalence of COVID cases and far more fatalities. The deaths resulting from that may be far greater than the downside risk of taking a vaccine,” he added.
St. Lucia continued to record new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours, with Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George announcing nine new cases bringing the total in the country to 171.
The new cases ranging from a 10-year-old girl to a 60-year-old female, have been placed in quarantine and the health authorities said that five of the new cases were identified through the contact tracing process.
“The Ministry of Health is pleased to announce the recovery of a total of 13 cases of COVID-19 from Thursday November 12, 2020 to November 15, 2020. These 13 individuals have been released from care and reintegrated into their communities. This now brings the total number of active cases currently in country to 110.”
But the ministry notes that one of the active cases remains in critical care at the Respiratory Hospital and all of the remaining active cases are stable. St. Lucia recorded two deaths within a 24 hour period last week from the virus.
“The Ministry of Health once more reminds everyone to practice daily the infection prevention and control guidelines to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.”
In Belize, two persons died from the virus and 78 new cases were recorded over the past 24 hours.
A statement from the Office of Director of Health Services said that the new cases were recorded in most districts across the country.
“We have two more deaths to report today, one is a female in her 90s who was been managed in private sector but died at the Western Regional Hospital. The second case is in a male in his 70s who died at the San Ignacio Community Hospital. We have 34 recoveries to report today for a total of 44.7 per cent of cases that remain active,” the statement noted.
It said that there have been 4, 861 positive cases of the virus, with 2, 073 being active. There have been 90 deaths..
“In COVID-19, prevention is always better and the hallmarks of prevention as proven by science are proper and consistent use of a mask that cover your nose and mouth, physical distancing as much as possible and limiting interactions with persons as much as you can.”
One visitor to the island has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after undergoing a second test. The 32-year-old man, who arrived in Barbados on American Airlines on November 13, was asymptomatic.
Additionally, the authorities said two persons will be released from isolation after recovering from the viral illness.
Barbados has now recorded 250 positive cases of the virus. Of these, 238 have recovered and five remain in isolation.
In Suriname, none of the 35 swabs administered tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
June 23 was the last time there were zero positives in 24 hours.
The number of active cases fell from 31 Saturday evening to 30 on Sunday. The death toll remained stationary at 114 for the third consecutive day. One person was hospitalised, leaving 14, while the number of patients in the intensive care unit remained at five.
The number of people healed rose to 5,148. There are eleven positives in isolation and 859 non-positives in quarantine, the authorities added.
An outbreak of the virus at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca, east of the capital, Port of Spain, has triggered a record high of almost 100 new positive cases in Trinidad and Tobago, according to tests done last Wednesday and Friday.
The Ministry of Health in its latest update said of the 97 new cases, 46 came from a cluster within the prison system.
Acting Commissioner of Prisons, Dennis Pulchan, referred to the situation as an unsettling one, but all avenues are being explored to protect the rest of the population.
In a statement, the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service said 68 more MSP inmates tested positive on Thursday. A week earlier on November 6, 18 MSP inmates tested positive. The release said a team of medical experts tested 222 people, including inmates and staff members.
Arrangements were made with the Ministry of Health to have all contacts, as well as people in the surrounding housing areas tested.
“Parallel to the testing, logistics were being considered and drafted with an anticipation of at least one-quarter of the sample size returning positive results. Several matters placed on the board included provisional housing areas, prisoner risk assessment, transport/ transfers and staff management.”
The Ministry of Health also announced that one person died, pushing the total to 112.
It said, to date, 34,701 people have been tested since March and that the total positive cases stood at 6,077, with 5,373 patients having recovered, and that there are 592 total active cases.
In Guyana, the Ministry of Health has recorded another COVID-19 related death.
The latest fatality is a 47-year-old female from Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) who died while receiving care at our medical facility. The Ministry said the woman had tested positive for the virus and that her death brings the total number of deaths from the pandemic to 139.
The ministry said that 29 new positive COVID-19 cases were recorded, taking Guyana’s overall known cases to 4, 823.
There are nine patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 60 patients are in institutional isolation and 838 are in home isolation. An additional 65 persons, who came into contact with positive patients, are in institutional quarantine. To date, 3, 777 have recovered.