Calls for the government and other actors to honour a commitment to the public to engage in rigorous post Covid 19 analysis of vaccine performance has fallen on deaf ears. Unfortunately, notwithstanding a significant investment in education, there is no local equivalent to the selfless Dr. John Campbell to probe the effectiveness of the many Covid 19 vaccines on the population.Continue reading
Attached are charts for week ending 7th January 2022. So far, the daily cases have not topped 600 and have indeed been dropping v. slowly for the past 4 days. The charts suggest that Omicron has been here for nearly a month but the rate of increasing daily cases has dropped. Deaths and isolations have increased, but only marginally. Vaccinations uptake is still very slow.Source: Lyall Small
Although not out of the woods Barbadians were told based on the week over week numbers “we are in a better place”, however, we need to keep our guard up. We can do this people!
We are already half way through what will result in many cases, both locally and around the world as one, if not the most difficult years in living memory.
Frankly I have been disappointed that we have not witnessed more creative thinking and action among the wealth of tourism professionals, who reside and derive their main income from the sector in our country. While it’s almost impossible to compare our position with that of larger neighbours, sparks of ingenuity emerge from abroad.
Take the US state of Arizona as an example. Republican Senator Martha McSally introduced legislation that would enable Americans to deduct domestic travel expenses, which include lodging on their tax returns for the next three years. The American TRIP act would provide a US$4,000 travel credit for individuals and US$8,000 for joint filers, plus an additional US$500 credit for dependent children.
Justifying the concept, Senator McSally, (a former United States Air Force Colonel, the first US women to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron) pointed out that travel and hospitality has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adding ‘Arizona has lost billions in revenue this year alone due to the pandemic’ and ‘my legislation will help boost domestic travel and jump-start the comeback of our hotels, entertainment sectors and local tourism agencies’.
I am not, for one second, suggesting that we attempt to adopt identical legislation, but it should open up our minds, that there are alternative ways of re-opening our tourism economy, rather than totally depending on overseas visitors, with all the challenges that entails. This form of tax credit could appeal to those who are still in meaningful employment and who have disposable income.
Another way may be to lift the recently imposed room levy and temporarily remove the VAT (value added tax) that is applied to accommodation and the latter on dining, at least until some sort of measured recovery takes place.
While Government will be clearly focused on tax collection to reduce the burden of further debt which has been compounded by Covid-19, it’s long term objective may be to ensure as many businesses as possible avoid bankruptcy and return to profitability in the middle to long term, ultimately making them subject to corporation and all the additional taxes that viability and full employment brings.
Some may reasonably argue that the current timing is not right, but when will it ever more likely to be?
Are ‘we’ going to wait until more businesses are shuttered and beyond realistic recovery?
Surely now, while ‘we’ still have the time, to finally implement the long promised duty-free concessions right across the tourism sector.
It cannot be right or proper that a single entity still extracts unique trading advantages, especially when we consider the fact that most of its derived income stays offshore.
If levelling the playing-field has any real meaning to those who have taken the greatest risk and ploughed almost, if not everything, into their country, let it be clearly demonstrated and raised as a beacon to encourage further local investment.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave the all-clear recently Barbados will be reopening for business on the 25 July 2020 with the proviso public health protocols must be adhered to by individuals and businesses. At the time of the announcement she confirmed to date there have been 96 confirmed cases, 83 total recoveries and seven deaths from Covid-19.
Locals woke up to the announcement a repatriation flight originating from New York and Florida with 120 Barbadians is due to land in Barbados today. Barbadians are aware Florida and New York are COVID 19 hotspots and have to trust the protocols established by public health authorities to protect. It is worth repeating locals have to also accept personal responsibility by following public health guidelines – frequent washing of hands, wear masks, practice physical distancing to name three.
Dr Kenneth Connell, a senior lecturer in clinical pharmacology in the Cave Hill Campus’ Department of Medicine, University of the West Indies also recently made an important announcement. He reminded Barbadians one of the main reasons the island achieved COVID free was due to our closed borders. His sobering observation serves as a reminder Barbadians must continue the intensity of our vigilance against COVID 19.
Here is a link to a press article covering Dr. Connel’s concerns:
COVID still lurks doctor warns
Barbados TodayPublished on
July 1, 2020
A senior medical official has warned Barbadians that zero COVID-19 cases at this time does not mean the disease has gone anywhere and he is urging them to maintain the prevention practices.
Dr Kenneth Connell, a senior lecturer in clinical pharmacology in the Cave Hill Campus’ Department of Medicine, University of the West Indies, says one of the main reasons the island has achieved COVID-19 free status was due to the decision to close the borders.
“We are now moving into a phase where we are soon going to be opening the borders and there will be infections, of course, because the virus has not gone anywhere. The COVID-19 virus will enter Barbados again,” the medical practitioner advised during the CBC-TV 8 programme, The People’s Business.
“This is now the true test,” he said of the public health measures such as wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing and all of the other things that “people get bored of doing or tend to forget”.
“So while it is important that we celebrate our success rate, we also have to be very realistic. It is like saying to someone ‘I no longer drink alcohol and I am sober for all this time’, but you don’t have any access to alcohol, so there is no test to see whether you can resist the challenge,” he observed.
Barbados has gone 36 days with no positive COVID tests on the island. Of the 97 persons who contracted the illness since the first case in March, 90 have fully recovered and are out of the isolation treatment centres, while seven persons have died.
According to Dr. Connell: “When we open our borders again, and the virus is now in our community again, how we manage this will really be the true measure of our success because COVID-19 will return to Barbados. And if we continue to be comfortable and wear your masks halfway across your face or wear it intermittently, then the spread will continue again.
“If we continue to say, I don’t want to leave home and I am going to stay at home because COVID-19 is here, then our country will never continue its economic thrust. We will not get back to work and it will never be business as usual. We have to learn to live with COVID-19 in our midst. We also have to learn not to pretend that the reason we have zero cases in Barbados now isn’t by coincidence or because God is a Bajan. It is because our borders were closed.”
And as the country prepares to welcome scheduled international flights from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, Dr Connell said the protocols for the treatment of visitors from countries still battling the disease were paramount.
“Our borders are our first line of defence. . . . So if you bring people into the country you have to test them and test them credibly. For example, you have to validate the labs that they have been tested at and if they have not been tested, then you have to have some mechanism in place to test them on site.
“If they have not been tested then you do not know whether they are positive or not. You have to be able to track them and put them under quarantine because our population is at risk. All these are measures that reduce the risk but that is all they do – they reduce the risk. It doesn’t mean there will never be another case of COVID 19,” the UWI lecturer pointed out.
“What will eventually happen is that we will learn to live with COVID-19. I am sure even with the best defence system in any country, some amount of COVID is going to reach the general community. It is how we manage that equilibrium.”
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
As more and more tourism businesses indicate they are re-opening, hopefully over the next few weeks, our policymakers and planners will instigate a single source reference website or other social media platform to combat the mass confusion and speculation as to when our industry is ready and able to host locals and overseas visitors.
Meanwhile, potential arrivals are left to navigate a bewildering source of what, in many cases, turns out to be misinformation or at least misleading. Especially relevant when you bear in mind the overwhelming majority of people do not book flights at a day or two’s notice and cannot necessarily choose holiday dates at short notice.
Of course, it all comes down to safety and most reasonable people can fully understand Government’s reluctance to commit to specific dates before every possible precaution preventing the further spread of Covid-19 is put in place. And this even more reinforces the essential need to implement a single reliable source for the latest factual information covering every aspect of our tourism offering.
What is also disappointing is that there appears to be no unified regional plan to re-open Caribbean islands to the world. A recent statement issued by LIAT to the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association indicated ‘the need to extend the temporary layoff of its pilots for three months’. Adding that, it was still awaiting further shareholder funding or subsidies and ‘these funds continue to be delayed’.
Even allowing for the differential in available medical and testing facilities, every territory seems to be doing its ‘own thing’ in terms of accommodation and airlift. Perhaps, many may question whether bodies like the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) could have played a greater role in recovery and if we can ever seriously contemplate marketing the region under one umbrella.
The CTO rightly could cite limited financial resources at this difficult time as a major issue for not being more collectively proactive, but there is always something positive that can be done with the combined talents and knowledge available.
Naturally, each island state has its own priorities in terms of economic recovery, the survival of businesses and restoring employment, but surely a greater degree of unity when negotiating the return of airlines and standard safety protocol could be agreed?
There also remains the sticky subject of taxation. In the case of Barbados, since October 2019 the imposition of a bevy of new taxes and levies has virtually negated Government from any significant fiscal contribution to marketing the destination. Throughout the duration of lockdown this valuable source has virtually dried-up and while the operating expenses that include staff salaries and premium location premises, both at home and overseas of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., and its associated agencies have remained, clearly there must have been some significant savings in advertising and airlift support.
When flights eventually return, will the administration look again at the level of taxation imposed on airfares which includes Value Added Tax (VAT) and two departure taxes, among others, to aid recovery?
We should remember that our traditional sources markets have all experienced loss or depletion of earned income and unprecedented levels of unemployment for a sustained period and that will inevitably impact on destination choice.
In December 1995 a doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital gave me a dire prognosis for my mother, he said: take her home and make her comfortable for the last, since there is nothing more we could do. I could therefore empathise with Elizabeth Thompson, upon receiving bad news about her mother.
At such a time any loving daughter would want to be close to her mother. No one could fault Liz, she loves her mother and felt a need to be with her, which is commendable. But these are not normal times and I have great difficulty understanding why the Government would set aside the carefully thought out procedure to allow Liz the opportunity to import another case of corona virus, on the pretext that she needed to see her ailing mother.
I am not heartless, I really understand her need but as Spock of Star Trek fame would say:
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, or in this case the needs of the one.
The Government is here to protect all of the people of this country and it should never have compromised that solemn duty for one of its friends. Her needs should not have taken precedence over the needs of every man, woman and child in this country.
It would appear that our citizens and residents will first have the option of travelling within the Caribbean, as and when Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
As we are now in the traditional prolonged softer summer season, it also appears to be more logical that our tourism planners and policymakers will focus, at least part of their efforts on promoting this opportunity.
As airlift possibilities within the region are extremely limited and LIAT has so far indicated they will not resume commercial passenger services until at least 30th June 2020, here again comes the crunch.
As we have witnessed for decades, LIAT has drifted through various degrees of cash flow crisis, management turmoil and insolvency issues, seemingly unable to survive without massive taxpayer support. At the same time, most Governments within the region have increasingly levied what many consider deterrent taxes and surcharges on their airline ticket prices, making it cheaper, in many cases, to fly to Canada or the United States.
So if we, as a country, or other states within the region are remotely hoping that Intra-Caribbean travel will at least lead the charge in returning to some sort of normality in arrivals numbers, then the status quo will have to change. Our Government will have to weigh-up the fact that if people cannot be enticed to our shores, that they will not collect VAT and other taxes on hotel or other accommodation, rental cars, restaurant dining, shopping, attractions and activities etc, for those visits.
The predicament for the administration will be if they really wish our crushed tourism industry to recover in the least possible time, will they forgo at least some of the multiple taxes currently applied?
Of course, it’s not just about returning tourism to viability, but restoring employment to an acceptable level in the foreseeable future, with the additional taxes and national insurance contributions that brings.
According to recent reports the World Bank has approved loans of US$159 million for a series of Caribbean Regional Air Transport connectivity projects. This included concessionary financing of $13 million for Dominica, US$17 million for Grenada and US$45 million for St. Lucia with a maturity of 40 years including a grace period of 10 years ‘to improve regional capacity’ and ‘facilitate connectivity and support countries during the COVID-19 recovery phase’.
Will these incredibly generous borrowing terms, at least partially relieve financial pressures on these Governments and enable them to reduce airport and departure taxes?
Airline pundits have also been calling for radical reforms of LIAT over the last decade or more and for a company that has been so reliant on taxpayer’s monies for almost an eternity it seems almost incredulous that their accounts have not been made public for 40 years.
Perhaps this is the opportunity to finally restructure the company, without regional political interference preventing the installation of management that could ensure its long term viability and survival. Unless this happens, just the concept of developing the true potential of intra-Caribbean travel and restoring past arrival numbers will remain a distant pipe dream.
…The discussion must turn to how can we run a country on 25% less revenue than planned over the next 2 years. It does not have to come to layoffs either. It can come from improved tax collection, greater efficiency etc. It does not have to be a case of just “sending home people”…
What has has been weighing on the blogmaster’s mind in recent weeks you ask?
In light of the Covid 19 pandemic most economies in the world have been negatively affected whether service based, commodity driven or combination of the two. The result is that citizens will have to make sacrifices until ‘normalcy’ is achieved. This is particularly true for the most vulnerable people in society – the indigent and sick.
The 500 million dollar projected shortfall in government’s budget as a consequence of the prevailing adverse economic conditions is a reality not many Barbadians have come to grips if one listens to public discussion. Made more acute the country is suffering from economic fatigue after a severe debt restructure and a decade or more of economic wutlessness.
Obviously government has a moral obligation to find ways to keep workers employed. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate that changes – especially if unplanned – to the tax base will negatively impact revenues therefore compromising government’s financial obligations to pay for public goods and services.
Government’s ability to collect taxes is also affected by a performing private sector. If the private sector contracts for any reason by shutting down businesses or sending home workers, contributions to government’s tax/NIS revenues will adversely impact finances. Covid 19 has created the perfect challenge for all governments including Barbados.
Having mentioned the economic and fiscal hurdles facing the country, it is easy to forget the social challenges that have inevitably resulted to make governing more complex.
The country is currently embroiled in a discussion about the details of how the proposed Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS) will be implemented. The success of BOSS and other fiscal measures are simply that, short term. If the global economy is lazy to respond to recovery it means SIDs like Barbados will have big problems as it burns cash in hand (reserves) to pay salaries and other unsustainable activities to maintain a reasonable standard of living. More and more rehashed commentary about how successive governments have built the economy on sand, encourage covert corruption and fuelled a culture of political patronage or a country living above its means will surface. This will make for good political discussion, however, does not make for constructive debate in the unprecedented climate we find ourselves.
The lengthy preamble to the thesis is – as a people are we capable of pivoting from the type of vacuous national discourse we have become accustomed to be replaced by one that is apropos?
A good place to start is to work at disrupting old thought patterns that encourage same old same outcomes. Easier said than done but is must be done if we are to survive as a nation out here in the global rat race.
…Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country…
John F. Kennedy
One of the greatest challenges for the entire tourism industry post Coronavirus, in my humble opinion, will be the subject of credibility in the eyes of the consumer or traveller. Almost every day, often conflicting announcements, regarding the status of when ‘we’ are able to fly and from where, seem to hit the headlines.
Virgin Atlantic has stated that Barbados bound flights from London will only operate from Heathrow airport and this was highlighted in an advertised summer 2021seat sale launched on 16th May. A cursory glance at their website show fare levels substantially higher than available in previous years for similar periods.
In a recent Forbes article, British Airways (BA) told staff that ‘flights at London Gatwick may not resume in an extreme scenario’ while at the same time also reporting massive redundancies involving 12,000 staff including 1,130 captains and first officers or 26 per cent of all pilots.
However, highly competitive fares for the beginning of 2021 from Gatwick to Barbados are presently bookable on the BA site, so mixed messages creating confusion. British Airways currently hold 51 per cent of the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow and Virgin Atlantic only 4 per cent. So if Virgin are planning to transfer many routes from Gatwick to Heathrow, taking that capacity with them, where are the ‘slots’ or take-off and landing positions going to come from?
Recently, Air New Zealand sold a slot pair at Heathrow for a quoted US$27 million and while there will be inevitable airline failure during this crisis any additional slots that become available will still fetch premium prices.
Prior to Covid-19, Heathrow averaged one flight landing or take-off every 90 seconds on each of its two runways or around 470,000 flights per year. Bearing in mind a night jet ban operates from 11.30 pm until 04.30 am. For travellers living north of London and using public transport to reach the airport, Heathrow will become a much more attractive alternative, once the new Elizabeth Line is fully open with its faster air-conditioned trains linking to major rail stations in the capital.
The importance of raising these and other questions now, during this continued period of speculation and doubt, is to allow our visitors, both returnees and potential first time arrivals, the maximum possible time to plan a holiday to our shores.
We are now just a week away from when two of our largest hotels, jointly with over 550 rooms, announced that they are going to re-open. Many are left to wonder exactly which flights are going to fill these properties, with no apparent national policy on the restoration of airlift and questions over quarantine requirements.
I am pretty sure this is all under discussion at the highest level, but everyone involved needs to know exactly what is going on, if we stand any chance of a speedy tourism recovery. The other area that needs urgent attention are the thousands of holidaymaker’s still awaiting refunds, either from the airlines, travel agents or tour operators.
Until their monies are returned without further delay, they are certainly not going to have the confidence to book another future flight or travel package with the prospect of putting additional funds at risk.
Submitted by Ras Jahaziel I Iktor Tafari
HE WAS BORN WITH A VAMPIRE ON HIS BACK, so he believes that God put it there.
Moreover, he was schooled and churched to see his landless-ness as normal.That is why today’s X-Slaves do not recognize the fundamental injustice that is inherent in their landless-ness.
What lesson might be learned from the Covid-19 Curfew if you happen to be a landless X-Slavewhose fore-parents were robbed and worked to death,and therefore left you WITH NO INHERITANCE except the name of the Slave-Master that raped them on a daily basis?
Read full text @Rastafarivisions.com
It is outrageous the government and the management at QEH are more concerned with hiding their embarrassment than with making sure that the hospital is safe.From a government that promised transparency, it seems that they are stuck in the same old culture of secrecy which is the ideal environment for corruption, leads to the deterioration in services and demoralises and disillusions the workers and the citizens.The failure of the management at QEH to ensure the safety of Bajans using the hospital is legitimate information for every Bajan to know and any rules or regulations which penalise putting such information into the public domain should be scrapped.Instead of spending time and resources taking disciplinary action against the doctor, the management at the hospital should be using this time, energy and resources to address the problems that have been highlighted.– Tee White
Since Dr. Maurice Walrond (General Surgeon) went public to voice concerns about how surgeries are being performed at the QEH in a COVID 19 environment, the management of the hospital has been forced to initiate an action that will require Dr. Walrond to defend himself against a charge of a breach of contract.
It is regrettable the issue had to be raised in the glare of the public. Of greater concern to the blogmaster is that Walrond and the eleven doctors supporting his position were unable to sit around a table to resolve the issue. Very unfortunate indeed.
It should not come as a surprise QEH management issued a ‘letter’ to Walrond, this is a standard HR practice to respond to any employee or ‘contractee’ thought to have violated terms and conditions of employment. Walrond being the intelligent person that he must be would have calculated the risk reward as they say of taking a public position. The risk to his contract at the QEH being revoked versus the merit of his argument (and eleven colleagues) that the public health of Barbados is being compromised by the existing QEH protocol to deal with surgeries.
The QEH has a responsibility to follow ‘grievance procedure’ and in all fairness could not be expected to ignore Dr. Walrond’s decision to go public last week with David Ellis on the afternoon show Getting Down to Brasstacks. Can you imagine if Tom, Dick and Harry contracted by the QEH to deliver sensitive services felt unfettered access to the media to air concerns was the best option to resolve problems? Such an approach would compromise the running of the QEH or any organization for that matter.
One suspects Dr. Walrond would have weighed the possible outcomes his bold action would have triggered. He comes from a family setup where he should have benefited from being around his mother (May She Rest in Peace) AND a father who is a retired surgeon. One suspects there is more to come in this matter. What action will the eleven other doctors take who have reportedly affixed their signature to the letter sent to management supporting Walrond’s concerns? Walrond is only the face of the dispute. Surely they will not throw Walrond under the bus without trying to save him. It is reported Walrond initiated communication with BAMP.
The blogmaster understand the arguments from BOTH sides. The QEH is hamstrung by lack of resources to implement the ideal site to do surgeries in a COVID 19 environment. In such a situation Walrond et al will find good reasons to be critical. In this situation reasonable men charged with protecting the health of Barbadians are encouraged to pursue a path to achieve a balanced (win win) position. Airing this matter in public makes for good ratings for the media but says nothing about our ability as an educated people to satisfactorily resolve conflict.
What a time for the public health sector to become unstable.
Our children are watching and modelling our behaviours.
During the COVID-19 press briefings, the Government refused to divulge any information on where positive cases had contracted the virus. We were not allowed to know the village, district or parish. We were not allowed to know whether they visited a business, or the type of business.
The reason for this secrecy, was to avoid any type of stigma and discrimination. We were to accept that: Barbados was one country, we were all in this together, and there was no room for division during this COVID-19 crisis.
Last Sunday (17 May 2020), the Government decided to throw one organisation to the wolves of social media. The Government claimed that three members of a small Church, in Bridgetown, with a membership of about 30, had tested positive. Well, that excluded the large Anglican, Methodist and Moravian churches in Bridgetown.
As if that were not enough, the Government threw fuel on the fire by publicly speculating that they were not sure, but that they were trying to find out whether members of that church were meeting during the lockdown.
To put the final nail in the coffin, the Government directed that this church was ordered closed until further notice.
On Tuesday 19 May 2020, the Government revealed that they had tested 27 members of the 28-member church, and four persons were positive. Our Acting Chief Medical Officer admitted that there was no evidence to support the allegation, that members of the church had met during the lock-down.
Why allow this irresponsible public speculation? Why did the Government make the reckless public allegation in the first place, that we now know was dangerous fake news?
Has the Government changed the way it reports on positive cases? Is this new protocol to be retroactive? Are we to expect the Government to now publicise the type, size and location of establishments that the other positive cases were in contact, or is this new exposure to only target churches?
The Other Shoe.
Just when we thought that things could not get any worse, they dropped the other shoe. The Government exposed the actual name of the next positive case. What would possess them to do that? What about the stigma that they were so insistent of avoiding?
Why also reveal that the lady tested positive for COVID-19, but was allowed to delay the mandatory isolation that the rest of us must endure, to see her ailing mother?
What about those Government skits, where people were pleading to see their elderly parents, but were denied for the greater good of all Barbadians? They must have known that everyone would see the blatant double standard.
Why throw the lady under the bus, to be ravaged by the wolves of social media? Does the Government think that their new strategy of exposing individuals, will encourage people who think that they may have the virus, from coming forward? Do they think that this new strategy will encourage persons to cooperate with those doing contact tracing?
To be charitable, it seems that the current set of persons managing this crisis are now exhausted. They are consistently making lunatic level mistakes, that cannot be rationally explained.
Further, their mistakes have consequences that can harm us all. Their recent actions are foreseen to force positive cases both underground, and from cooperating with those doing contact tracing.
Solutions Barbados suggests that the current managers be given a two-week vacation, to rest. They can then resume their duties recharged, for the benefit of us all.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com
Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Group
The fears of many progressives that Caribbean leaders will not embrace a new economic path post COVID -19, are slowly surfacing. While we support the current efforts in the fight against COVID-19, we must admit that as the region returns to state of normalcy or what is being branded the “new norm”, there will be nothing new about their economic management.
There is a collective pandering to the same institutions and backward policies that are essentially stagnating growth. We therefore expect the status quo to remain entrenched and we predict that we will witness blatant attempts, to apply the finishing touches to the death of trade unionism. The commanding heights of our economies will continue to be dominated by whites, Asians, and other minorities both local and expatriate. The relentless quest for wealth will continue and many poor Black Caribbean citizens, will be expected to carry the burden.
These hopelessly backward and visionless leaders are once more placing almost all their eggs in the tourist industry basket. They have quickly forgotten how rapidly and comprehensively the tourist industry collapsed as the vicious COVID-19 spread throughout the world. They are hell bent on cajoling with a good servant but a bad master and the vacant air and seaports resembling ghost cities, put fear r in their timid hearts.
The agricultural and manufacturing sectors have been ruthlessly abandoned and in some countries golf courses, marinas and multimillion-dollar homes have replaced anything resembling food crops. The islands are essentially for sale and in some territories, citizenship can be bought to boost foreign exchange levels. The worst kept secret in some islands, is the fact that three generations of white plantation owners have no interest in agriculture. They have destroyed some economies and are in cahoots with some high-flying politicians who live above their means and find themselves in the pocket of corporate marauders.
Against this background of leadership sycophancy, the MCG, has no choice other than to call on progressive forces to blunt this socio-economic destruction. We can no longer limit ourselves to pseudo intellectual mumbo jumbo while our brothers and sisters, in some cases, work for less than $150 USD per week.
We note that some leaders are forced to eat humble pie as they slip into bed with known corporate pirates. Our distinguished head of the University of the West Indies finds himself begging the same corporate elites that he once vehemently castigated. We watch in awe as one leader a once considered a Marxist, finds himself at the center of unsavory acts unbefitting his tremendous intellect and academic brilliance. And another leader finds herself embracing a rich white corporate heavy roller, whom she viciously attacked in a general election just about two short years ago.
The COVID-19 has not only unhinged our socio-economic model but has left naked for all to see, a barren collective leadership that now finds everything, apart from sunseekers on their beaches, beyond their bankrupt imagination.
We expect to see more pigs walking on their hindlegs.
William Skinner, Information Officer, MCG.
In her recent address to the nation Prime Minister Mia Mottley indicated a real discussion will take place next week between the government and social partnership as it pertains to how the country will have to support workers displaced in a post COVID period. The idea of pandemic bonds has been floated.
Commonsense Barbadians understand the pandemic will force a change to the way WE have to do business today, tomorrow and in the future. It is important to define WE – it means all actors operating in civil society INCLUDING the government.
Leadership is about leading by example. There is no better time than to illustrate the idea of leading from the front than for the Prime Minister and her very large Cabinet to take a salary cut.
The blogmaster joins with many looking forward to participate in a sensible national discussion about the best way forward in a COVID world. It makes no sense ordinary people asked to make a sacrifice and OTHERS are allowed to operate business as usual.
Cutting salaries will not result in a significant savings in the context of the national budget BUT it is not about that is it.
Forced savings discussion could help save jobs
In an effort to keep job losses to a minimum, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley will next week start a dialogue with her financial advisors regarding the possibility of introducing forced savings for public officers.
The Prime Minister said the new measure, through which some public officers would have part of their salary kept in the form of bonds, would play a significant role in helping provide Government with more fiscal space as it continued to deal with the debilitating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on Thursday night after consultations with the Social Partnership at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Mottley said forced savings could lead to hundreds of public servants keeping their jobs, even though there was no plan to start sending home any.
“If we have to look to avoid forced layoffs in Government, then we can look at a form of forced savings. We will have that conversation next week, as we want to give everyone an opportunity. We have to cut expenditure, even in spite of the fiscal space we have. We are in a comfortable position, but we want to ensure we have safe work for safe people.”
Mottley said the International Monetary Fund had recommended to its board in early June that Barbados be allowed to move from a six per cent primary surplus to one per cent.
“It will give us at least $550 million in elbow room,” she told the media.
She said Government’s main aim was to slowly get the country back to a state of normalcy. (BA)
Link suggested by Dr. GP (reproduced from Bajanthings.com
Life after COVID19. Hope for a new world order.
With the spread of the COVID-19 virus showing no sign of leaving the world any time soon it is probably premature to talk or think of life after it is gone.
It appears that the necessary and common sense restrictions on gathering has slowed the infection rate and by extension the death rate. But as soon as these restrictions are lifted in stages the number of cases again rise. It has happened in S. Korea, Singapore and lately in China.
It will be interesting to see the results in Europe. In Barbados we have relaxed the 24/7 curfew we had to 8pm to 5am. The next 2 weeks will tell us if it was premature. It is a hard balance between halting the spread and getting back to work, or just being able to go outside and socialise.
The human animal evolved as a social animal and to try to change this for any period of time will not work. You can modify it but not stop the need to be in groups or tribes.
I think that we in the Caribbean have found it more difficult not to socialise on buses, streets, shops and everywhere we congregate than those accustomed to life in big cities. There it is considered rude to make eye contact with a stranger. That is not the Caribbean way. We get on a bus and immediate join in any conversation with everyone.
For me I have noticed the enforced change when I go into shops or businesses where all the social interaction no longer applies. I hope that returns soon as that is what makes us one people.
Read fill text @Bajanthings.com
The PSV sector continues to be of interest in the COVID 19 period.
For four decades due to neglect by the authorities the sector has been allowed to fuel a negative sub culture mainly linked to greed and corruption. The reasons have been detailed in blogs and other commentary over the years, there is no need to repeat the arguments here.
The pandemic is a threat to public health and to prevent the spread of COVID 19 all individuals and entities MUST play a part by adhering to protocols proclaimed by public health authority.
In the opinion of the blogmaster the PSV sector has been given an opportunity to rebrand by ensuring members follow health protocols – wearing masks, overseeing physical distancing on vehicles, regular cleaning of vehicles etc. The blogmaster appointed himself at a strategic place to observe the sector this week and unsurprisingly was not disappointed at the flagrant regard for COVID health protocols. It was business as usual for the majority of vehicles in the period under observation.
Our public health officials have worked hard to contain the spread of the virus. However, there has been a large slice of luck to factor as well given how the PSV sector has been allowed to operate. Picture a scenario where a person infected travelled in a crowded Zr NOT exercising COVID precautions. A mass transit system is the perfect vehicle to ensure a rapid spread of COVID 19 in a tiny or large country. Is there a learning for Barbados from the decision by New York Governor to shut down the legendary mass transit system to be sanitized?
This is a plea to the Ministry of Transport; Transport Authority and the several PSV associations responsible for managing transportation in Barbados to rollout a plan- that should have been implemented yesterday- to arrest the indiscipline in the sector. This is a tired call given the current state of the sector but we must try and try and try in order to succeed. Successive governments have failed us and in the current setup we have not one but two ministers responsible for the sector and a Chairman of the Transport Authority who is related to the prime minister and must have her ear.
Protect people from themselves.
Do something for heaven-sakes.
Our main problem is not finance, it is the availability of markets for what we produce. It is the closing of these markets that caused the decline in jobs,foreign exchange and income. Just in case we are losing focus. Is stimulus money a medium or long-term solution? It is a short term inadequate remedy. It buys time for the economic agents to regroup and re-calibrate – Vincent Carrington
This blogmaster was hopeful the COVID 19 global disease would have served as the great disrupter many of us have been waiting for. That is, to force behavioural change necessary to efficiently manage our little economy to support a decent standard of living for our children and those to follow.
Last weekend Larry Summers a former US Treasury Secretary was asked to comment on COVID 19 impact on the economies of emerging and developing countries. He responded (in summary) that these countries will need significant financial assistance from international financial institutions. High debt burden carried by developing countries does not leave fiscal space to adequately finance policy development. He elaborated that emerging and developing countries will have to cooperate to create the perfect lobby in order to attract assistance. It brought to the blogmaster’s mind that some good may come out of the investment by Prime Minister in raising the international profile of the country and region.
Countries have had to react quickly to a global economy forced to come to a screeching halt because of COVID 19. Finance ministers everywhere have had to reallocate scarce resources to fight the pandemic. What is scary for the developing world is that CHINA, USA and Europe responsible for fuelling the global economy have been significantly affected by the novel coronavirus. Unlike developing countries these three countries have access to financial resources to combat fallout from the pandemic.
The interdependent nature of the global economy – to Summer’s point – makes it a priority for the developed word to assist developing countries by suspending debt payments AND to consider debt forgiveness. The usual criteria of per capita income used by international agencies to ‘graduate’ needs to be jettisoned and replaced by more realistic economic performance indicators. How can a country like Barbados not qualify for significant debt forgiveness given the vulnerability of our small open economy? The global economy will not recover if markets in emerging and developing countries are left to flounder.
One does not have to be a sage to know Barbadians will have to be sensitized by our leadership to the unprecedented challenges facing countries like Barbados because of the pandemic. The lack of financial intelligence and economic planning currently being demonstrated by local actors continues to be a big disappointment. Almost every intervention and commentary seem to be crafted to be political or anchored in the same old same old rhetoric. Frankly it has been a struggle for this blogmaster of late to feel motivated to blog.
Does anyone besides a few – understand the implications of a country like Barbados already suffering from a decade of economic fatigue – the implication of depleting reserves or drawing down on hard to source lines of credit to fight COVID 19?
Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green
We have all heard of the saying “history always repeats itself.” Well the COVID 19 virus is a pandemic, just like the Spanish Flu of 1918 was a pandemic.
Like today, in Britain, temporary hospitals were equipped; every bed in the picture has someone in it. Many in the country wore face masks, and social distancing was observed. But like today there were the unbelievers, who thought it was all a hoax, and they would never get ill, least of all die. But they could, and they did, they died by the millions.
The Spanish Flu lasted about 36months, and during that time, 500 million fell ill in the world, and between 50 to 100 million died. All those who were going to die, all those who could die, died. There were no more whom it could kill. Fit people had probably developed herd immunity, over a 3 to 5 year period. There was one significant difference between this and the Corona Virus, it killed the elderly and weak first, but it also killed people of all other ages. Some stragglers were ill for several years after that. But the susceptible had died, the old, the sick, the infirm, they all died. The fit eventually stopped being ill from it and it ultimately fizzled out. Like today there were no known potions, medicines, or vaccines.
At the time, Churches were locked down, all places where people gathered were closed, assembly was banned, and stay at home periods observed, even curfews enforced.
When the Spanish Flu first appeared in the U.S. in early March 1918, it had all the hallmarks of the seasonal Flu, albeit a highly contagious and virulent strain. One of the first registered cases was Albert Gitchell, a U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas, who was hospitalized with a 104-degree fever. The virus spread quickly through the Army installation, home to 54,000 troops. By the end of the month, 1,100 soldiers had been hospitalized, and 38 [3%] had died after developing pneumonia.
As U.S. troops deployed en masse for the war effort in Europe [WW1], they carried the Spanish Flu with them. Throughout April and May of 1918, the virus spread like wildfire through England, France, Spain and Italy. An estimated three-quarters of the French military was infected in the spring of 1918 and as many as half of British troops. Yet the first wave of the virus didn’t appear to be particularly deadly, with symptoms like high fever and malaise usually lasting only three days. According to limited public health data from the time, mortality rates were similar to seasonal Flu.
The death rate was about 3%, the same as today’s COVID 19. People in those days died a lot easier, and they considered 3% pretty acceptable and in-line with most other infectious disease mortality rates.
Reported cases of Spanish Flu dropped off over the summer of 1918, and there was hope at the beginning of August that the virus had run its course. People were fed up with being locked down and could not wait to get out, down to the pub, down to the chip shop. So by mid-summer, thinking it was all but over the people flocked everywhere, like never before.
What they did not know was viruses tend to come in waves, there was a second wave of infection following closely on the heels of the first infection. About 3.5 million people had been killed worldwide with the first strike by the virus, but it was only the calm before the storm. Somewhere in Europe, a mutated strain of the Spanish flu virus had emerged that had the power to kill a perfectly healthy young man or woman within 24 hours of showing the first signs of infection.
In late August 1918, military ships departed the English port city of Plymouth carrying troops unknowingly infected with this new, far deadlier strain of Spanish Flu. As these ships arrived in towns and cities like Brest in France, Boston in the United States, and Freetown in West Africa, the second wave of the global pandemic began. This second wave went on to kill 10-20% of those inflicted, and now a further 45 to 100 million were to die, and die they did.
From September through November of 1918, the death rate from the Spanish Flu skyrocketed. In the United States alone, 195,000 Americans died from the Spanish Flu in just a month of October 1918. The first wave of the virus had killed all the worlds’ old folk and those with pre-existing illnesses. This newly mutated strain killed anyone, any age, it was unstoppable. Then it got even worse, if that was possible, a massive spike in the middle of the second wave composed of otherwise healthy 25- to 35-year-olds in the prime of their life. They died like flies; no family was spared.
Not only was it shocking that healthy young men and women were dying by the millions worldwide, but it was also how they were dying. Struck with blistering fevers, nasal haemorrhaging, and pneumonia, the patients would drown in their fluid-filled lungs.
If that sounds familiar, it should. Because those dying with COVID 19 also drown on the fluid in their lungs produced by pneumonia.
What we should all fear is when they blow the whistle and call the all-clear, tell us it’s OK to go out again, that a second wave will come and catch us all unawares. Because there is a great probability of that happening, virus pandemics tend to behave like that.
For those of you that have failed to grasp why you have all been asked to use social distancing, to wear face masks, voluntary and forced self and family isolation. It’s not because they are trying to stop the illness and stop the prevailing deaths, because that is impossible.
It’s much more straightforward than that. If we all go out and about and we all get ill at the same time, they would never be able to control the rate of which we fall sick and the rate that some of us die. We will all be ill at the same time. They have to slow it down so as hospitals, funeral parlors, and undertakers can cope. If we all get sick at once, the whole system will collapse, and we will all end up dying in our beds, in the street, park benches, everywhere.
As for all the silly people who think if they go out and get the virus will then get better and will, from then on, have immunity from the disease for the future. Well, I am sorry to inform you it does not quite work like that.
Some of you will get well again, some will fully recover, but those that rapidly die will not ever get the immunity because they will be dead.
For me, when they blow the whistle and call the all clear, I am staying under lockdown. I will watch what happens first for a few weeks. Those of you that cannot wait to get out and risk becoming ill and dying, farewell, have an awesome trip.
For anyone over 60, pray that they will produce an effective vaccine by the years’ end as promised. Or they find an existing chemical antiviral drug that works on COVID 19. If they do not, it may be lockdown for some time to come.
For those of you who think I have overstated the case, take a look at this article.
Submitted by Bentley
|Risk Factors for having negative outcome from COVID 19|
|Diabetes and pre-diabetes|
|Other respiratory conditions|
|Lack of exercise|
|Chronic stress levels|
|Inadequate immune system function caused by cancer treatment or some other cause|
A suggestion from a doctor WE should be focussing on improving our diet to improve the odds against succumbing to COVID 19. How about adding this to the COVID 19 messaging we are being bombarded on a daily basis?
The current Coronavirus crisis has given ‘us’ a multitude of opportunities, if we choose to seize the moment and use this time to learn and improve conditions for growing our economy, when circumstances return to any form of normality.
As I have mentioned before, especially for the smaller investor on Barbados, this process is close to a nightmare and we can personally articulate that opinion, having been embroiled in the process for the last 31 years and intensely for the last seven.
Clearly, while many of our brightest minds, whether in the private or public sector, have spare time on their hands, we have to be able to develop a better way of doing business and particularly making it easier and more investor-friendly, both for locals and foreigners alike.
In a world of virtual reality, perhaps some sort of forum can be created where all the participating component partners come together with actual investors who have already navigated the hoops and hurdles and just maybe include some of those who simply gave up, defeated by or that succumbed to the seemingly endless obstacles.
Obviously, this should include financial and lending institutions, lawyers, accountants, investment organisations (of which there seem to be several) and representatives of the various ministries involved.
One simple solution, as has been often proffered, is a one-stop-shop investment agency where each applicant is given a unique registration online number with limited password controlled access to all involved.
All the necessary government requirements in terms of proof of payment of statutory obligations could be posted on this portal, ensuring that the potential investors or vendors are not endlessly chasing around the country to ensure this paperwork is valid and currently up-to-date.
There should also be reasonable time limits imposed on all the entities involved, ie: time taken to consider and approve a loan, contractual and property sale closing period by the attorneys on both sides and response time for any Government entity involved.
The suggested website should also serve as a single source complete reference point to enable those thinking of starting or acquiring any form of tourism business can research all available concessions available.
From our personal experience, it’s almost like a game of ‘mission impossible’, notably with Government departments.
Once you have sought out and waited for what you think are all the required documents and clearance certificates, some may then have expired and the lengthy and frustrating process has to start all over again.
If we have learnt anything from the ongoing crisis, it is that we have to fundamentally improve how we use online access to information gathering, to reduce the existing reliance on human dependence, with all its associated delays and physical stumbling blocks.
Submitted by SirFuzzy
Will the MOEd [Ministry of Education] be forced to consider having a staggered teaching arrangement if the covid-19 induced realities still swamp us at the beginning of a new academic year in September 2020″?
I believe that secondary school may adapt to the stay-at-home- distance education model far easier as you have young school children that can “fend for themselves” far better than the 5 – to ten-year-old age group found in the primary school.
I guess many of us are praying for a quick vaccine. To return us to the “bad normal” we called acceptable pre-covid19. Now, I have not been to the primary school classroom in aeons. I know that when I was in a primary school in the 1970’s the seating arrangement(s) did not allow for the 2M/6ft distance that is mandated now. So if we are to stick to that social distancing requirement, the average primary school will have far less classroom capacity.
I don’t see the government being able to build new primary schools any time soon, therefore, maybe we can make use of some of the disused government buildings to provide schooling? The abandoned secondary school building(s) in White Park road will be a good candidate; of course after a thorough industrial cleaning occurs.
That campus may absorb some of the pupils that can no longer fit into the classrooms island wide. However, using widely distributed disused gov’t buildings may present a transportation issue for some parents. So let keep the pupils in the same school that they were assigned and the parents know how to get to them etc.
IMO, the better solution is to have a shift system that allows for the primary school to have some pupils starting school at different times. This staggered approach should allow the classroom size to be smaller as few pupils should be on the campus. This will require a lot of planning and also consultation with the teachers’ union, but I think it a step worth exploring. If it is feasible and doable at the primary school level where I think it is most necessary, then some consideration can be given to it happening at the secondary school level at the specific school(s) that it fits best.
Discuss for 100 marks.
What does COVID-19 have to do with oil prices?
At refineries, planners and traders forecast how much crude to buy based on forecasted demand. Those forecasts would normally be off by plus or minus a few percentage points.
As the time of future deliveries, demand is now known and last minute decisions are made to either buy/sell a small percentage of oil in order to balance demand and supply.
The last minute decisions can only be done on a speculative open market.
In the current COVID-19 scenario, the sudden in demand has resulted in refineries not taking massive amounts of crude.
This not withstanding that refineries would have some storage. Privately owned “tank farms” together with oil tankers would also provide a limited storage buffer for the markets. However these storage options may not be enough in the short term.
The current COVID-19 scenario unfolded in less than one month, a shorter period than the term of the traded contracts. Storage became constrained and something had to give.
Any trader left stuck with extra oil on their hands would have to pay storage buffers to off take the unwanted oil. That’s why market prices went negative
1. Should the terms of the oil trading future contracts be shortened to be less than one month?
2. Should nations agreed to a more phased and slower shut down of their economies in order to better manage the constrains?
3. Should pandemic related force majeure clauses be included in oil contracts?
— By Roland R. Clarke PhD CMVP CRE, Energy Management and Policy, University of Pennsylvania 1995.
On the 11 April 2020 Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressed the nation to update on COVID 19. One of the decisions made was to establish a Jobs and Investment Council that includes former ministers of Finance Arthur and Sinckler. She also promised to address Barbadians soon on what an economic plan for the country will look like.
COVID 19 is a pandemic which continues to stymie ALL the economies of the world. Sensible individuals have to admit that it will take a herculean effort by ALL well being Barbadians to push start the economy.
The past is the past.
We are here now.
We have to dust off our backsides and look the future in the eye with conviction.
Let us join hands and show we care about Barbados.
“What need in the country now …“- Mia Mottley
Submitted by Nathan Green
Recent accusations from the US government is that China knew there was a released virus problem as early as September 2019. They had hoped to control it and hide it, but it is so aggressive it is now attempting to wipe out the World. Even if it does not achieve that, the World will not be the same afterwards.
COVID – 19 was very likely a SARS Corona virus manipulated in the Wuhan laboratory where the Chinese military have been experimenting with biological warfare. It really is too much of a coincidence that COVID – 19 originated in the very same city where the Chinese have their biological laboratory specializing in research of the SARS Corona type virus’s.
We all know that the world is full of mad scientists and more so in Communist China. Scientists in such places as China and North Korea are dealt with severely if they fail to bring the results expected by the rulers. Unlike the Western scientists who have also been working on biological weapons of mass murder for years, who get huge salaries, and no punishment for failure or mistakes.
The Russians were almost certainly conducting a joint parallel program with the Chinese on the Corona virus. The Russians passed laws in the Dumar in early December allowing them to close their borders with China. The Russians closed down their border with China almost immediately the COVID – 19 was identified in China as a possible epidemic and before it was identified as a pandemic by WHO. The Russians closed their border with China before there was a single instance of COVID – 19 anywhere in Russia. They most likely knew what was coming, in the early day of the virus the Chinese even sent samples to Russia of the virus gathered from Chinese patients, and the Russians immediately started to work on a vaccine.
In China a whistle blower, Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor who knew how deadly the virus was. At the hospital in Wuhan sent out a warning to fellow medics on 30 December but police told him to stop “making false comments”. He was issued with a written warning, a notice to cease and desist in his warning of fellow colleagues, or anyone else.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Dr Li, an ophthalmologist, posted his story on Weibo from a hospital bed a month after sending out his initial warning.
The 34-year-old had noticed seven cases of a virus that he thought looked like Sars – the virus that led to a global epidemic in 2003.
On 30 December he sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
Like in most communist countries one or more of those doctors sneakily reported him to The Communist Party and four days later he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”.
He was one of eight people who police said were being investigated for “spreading rumours” Local authorities later apologised to Dr Li.
But what the Chinese authority were really worried about was Dr Li telling the truth.
The Authorities had little to worry about from Dr Li thereafter because on 10 January 2020 he started coughing. The next day he had a fever and two days later he was in hospital, he was diagnosed with the corona virus on 30 January, by the 6 February he was dead.
Within a further few weeks it had spread all over the world and started a pandemic of the likes never seen before, since the Black Death ravaged the world.
This was no normal virus, it has no cure and there is currently absolutely no way of stopping it. The Chinese say it is zoonotic which it may very well have initially been. But this virus almost certainly escaped from the Wuhan laboratory where it had been manipulated for biological warfare use.
The British newspaper ‘Mail on Sunday’ made a report “Did coronavirus leak from a research lab in Wuhan? Startling new theory is ‘no longer being discounted’ amid claims staff ‘got infected after being sprayed with blood”
The Mail went on to say
“Senior Government sources say that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ is still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city is ‘no longer being discounted’.”
“One member of Cobra, the emergency committee led by Boris Johnson, said last night that while the latest intelligence did not dispute the virus was ‘zoonotic’ – originating in animals – it did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory.”
If this is correct then President Trump should well be questioning WHO officials about what they knew, when they knew, and why they helped China to hide the numbers and ultimately the virility of COVID – 19.
As one would expect there are conspiracy theories and stories that say that China and Russia set the pandemic in motion to bring about the downfall of the Western society as we know it, or perhaps as we once knew it. Because I doubt it will ever be the same again. What benefit one may ask would that be to China and Russia? A lot I suppose, because both their economies were spiralling downward under the weight of US trade sanctions. They had both been working on ways to destroy the dominance of the US dollar in all financial markets. They had every reason to try and destroy our current civilisation. It is a way of waging war without using conventional weapons. Wipe out all the older generation who cost every country so much to keep in their old age, among them many old senators in the US, and all the oldies in the armed forces.
But would anyone really do such a thing? I suppose if we look at Russia under Putin they have waged a dirty war all over the world murdering hundreds of individuals inside Russia, and in other Sovereign countries. They recently attempted to murder Russians living in exile in Britain, using deadly nerve chemicals. They also murdered a Russian political fugitive in Britain by lacing his tea with radioactive substances. So we know certainly Russia would not think twice about dirty behaviour.
Did this doomsday virus get away prematurely? Well that is something we can all consider. But why did the Russians and Chinese have on hand huge amounts of protective clothing, masks, gloves, respirators, and other critical items? So much so that in March the Russians sent 14 massive airplanes loaded with such items, along with hundreds of specialist staff to Italy. Then both they and China sent masks and gloves to the USA. The Chinese and the Russian are selling container loads, in fact ship loads of protective commodities worldwide. No other countries in the world had these commodities on hand, stored in massive warehouses, just in case.
COVID 19 test kits as well, in three months the Chinese have sold several billion of dollars worth of test kits throughout the world.
The other thing is why has every outbreak of these SARS type killer viruses which have traversed the World since 2000, each and every one started in China.
After it escaped in Wuhan, did they then decide to run with the project as originally planned? Sending runners all over the world to introduce COVID – 19, and start what we now have “The Chinese Doomsday Virus”? Unless it was helped on its way. How did it accelerate with such speed?
Circumstantial evidence you may say, perhaps not quite so, consider the evidence in the two articles below.
March 29, 2020. · British Govt Furious Over China’s Virus Lies, ‘Reckoning’ Expected Post-Pandemic The British government is reportedly furious over the coronavirus misinformation campaign conducted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), leading to calls for the relationship between the two powers to be re-evaluated after the pandemic subsides.
March 25, 2020. A suit has been filed in a Texas District Court in the US seeking compensatory damages of over $20 trillion US Dollars against China for the “creation and release, accidental or otherwise” of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a biological weapon in violation of China’s international obligations.
April 04, 2020. Britain and France to sue China over Covid 19 virus escape.
April 19, 2010. The very latest today is that the German Government has issued China with a writ to sue for $130 billion. Germany sends China £130billion bill for ‘coronavirus damages’ – sparks fury in Beijing. Berlin has called out Beijing’s responsibility for the global pandemic.
While pretty much all that is uttered currently regarding the future of our land based tourism sector is purely academic, until we can see some possible end to the current coronavirus crisis, one thing for absolutely certainty is that the cruise ship industry will never be quite the same again.
According to a recent media release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 100 cruise ships remain offshore or in controlled and restricted port berths off the United States East, West and Gulf Coasts with some 80,000 crew members on board.
The CDC states under the 100 day no sail order ‘they must comply with all government requests and may not board or disembark any crew members during this time frame’.
Onboard MS. Volendam (one of the Holland America line), from his ‘80 square foot windowless cabin’, 27 year old singer/ dancer crew member, Matthew Gordon, stated that after almost a month ‘fried fish heads had become a lunch staple’.
Regarding the several cruise ships currently moored off our Barbadian shoreline, and perhaps other jurisdictions around the world, it would appear contrary to the previous CDC ruling, the majority of the crews have been repatriated on charter flights, leaving the vessels, with skeleton staff onboard, to maintain a minimum level of safety and security.
As difficult to accept, at this time, as it may at first appear, it might just be the ideal time for a private led consortium to partner with an established cruise operator to launch a Barbados flagged and based vessel offering year- round sailing departures from Bridgetown.
Of course, I am not talking about the ‘monsters’ of the seas, like the 6,000 passenger capacity ships, but a smaller highly targeted 150-250 cabin offerings, perhaps in concert with a hotel brand.
The clearly obvious lodging brand would be Sandals, as no-one can doubt the proven ability they have acquired to source consumables for their properties, having already modelled this supply chain on the existing cruise ship operators.
Secondly, no other land based accommodation chain has been so successful in extracting unique concessions from Governments across the Caribbean and this would be enormously helpful in helping establish a regional cruise line.
As well as finally taking just a tiny chunk of the Caribbean cruise market, which has for so long dominated the global market in terms of numbers, it could help us fill seats to draw back airlines, feeding passengers into the cruise departures.
Post Coronavirus crisis, we are going to need all the support we can get to encourage airlines to return flying to Barbados and demonstrate that the routes can once again prove profitable or at least sustainable.
Going off this subject for a moment, I urge our tourism policy planners and policymakers to use this critical time to re-focus on how Barbados is presented to the world.
Both from a public and private sector, there is a great deal of work that could be done to update and upgrade national, trade association websites and social media presence.
When the possibility of returning to our shores becomes a realistic scenario, potential travellers will not want to view stale and outdated information.
Submitted by Mahogany Coconut Group
Many regional commentators are of the firm opinion, that the post COVID-19 economies, will have to consider putting the Agriculture industry, at the forefront of economic planning. While we certainly do not want to engage in pessimism, we suspect that some who share this view, may be quite optimistic and are avoiding historical truths.
The belief that the region should feed itself is nothing new. Over forty-five years ago, the then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago addressed the “The Caribbean Food Crisis” and the need to halt the level of food imports. Williams saw the inability of the region to deal with the Energy Crisis as directly linked to our failure to produce more food and create a vibrant regional agricultural sector. His analysis of the social and economic negatives resulting from the damage that food imports were creating in regional economies, are as relevant now as they were almost a half century ago.
In addresses quoted at the end of this article, Williams spoke of the stigma that young people attached not only to agriculture but to the actual foods they consumed. Indeed, he spoke of how our eating habits and the preference over imported food were rationalized. He also showed how the growth of the tourism industry was influencing food preferences, that were instrumental in driving imports
Against this background, we are forced to conclude that those negatives are more severe now than they were a half century ago. Since Williams spoke, tourism has become the major industry in several islands. Some of these islands, are now literally bankrupt because the COVID-19, has wiped out the tourist industry, for what is being hoped would be temporary period.
The stone that the builder refused (Agriculture) is at present being seen as the new corner stone, in what will be post COVID-19 regional economies. We can only hope that we do not repeat the errors made a half century ago.
Reference: Forged from The Love of Liberty
Selected Speeches of Dr Eric Williams
Oil and Food
The Caribbean Food Crisis
Address at the opening ceremony of the Ninth Biennial Convention of the
Caribbean Veterinary Association 12th August 1974
Opening Address to the Oil and Food Discussion Port of Spain
6 January 1975
Saturday 18th April 19, 2020
Posted to Afra Raymond’s website
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, appointed a 22-member COVID-19 ‘Road to Recovery’ committee on 16 April 2020 to handle and advise on the path of the post-pandemic economic and social recovery. Afra Raymond discusses what he believes should be the priorities of this committee.
Programme Length: 00:10:15
Programme Date: 18 April 2020
The following comment was posted by BU commenter yallsmall to the blog COVID 19 Challenges for SIDs – A Lack of Discipline Exposed. An interesting exchange which probes the urgent need to define a relevant strategy to effectively fight COVID 19
– David, Barbados Underground
Those posts were an attempt to publicize what I think might be the most important misconception by the Epidemiological community as well as the Politicians in this whole global Pandemic situation.
The most recent pandemics or near-pandemics in the world have been caused by coronaviruses. Reducing or eliminating the spread of these viruses require the use of very old techniques used with a mix of new ones. The science of Virology has modernized the tools that are used for designing protocols for control as well as make the visualization of the pathogens and their interaction with host cells whether human or non-human more apparent. The study of relevant aspects of the pathogen (e.g. Covid-19); the host (man); and how the pathogen spreads and infects the host (e.g. if vectors are important and how so) as well as the determination of the environmental factors that assist in or detracts from the rate of spread.
It has long been known that most Coronaviruses attacking humans are spread by droplets as well as aerosols. Droplets from coughs do not travel far under ordinary circumstances but aerosols produced by the rapid drying out of droplets could travel several times the 6 ft limit that has been determined for droplets.
If it is true that Covid-19 spreads by aerosols it would require a significant reworking of the 6ft distancing rule and suggest that that rule might have inadvertently contributed to a significant proportion of the horrendous carnage that Covid-19 has caused around the world so far.
The Czech authorities have had a relatively good outcome, so far, in their war against the spread of Covid-19. They appear to attribute this mainly to the universal use of Masks. The US has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to recommend the voluntary use of low quality masks. It is quite possible that the universal use of good quality masks by the total population might fill a large part of the void between the suppression of aerosols and the 6ft space.
There are many aspects of this area that could promote a good wide ranging BU discussion.
On reflection, hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, but I ponder just how many individuals and companies are kicking themselves, for not implementing supplemental trading measures while they had the opportunity and available funding?
Take one, if not our largest, food wholesale and retail distribution entities as an example.
If they only had spent a fraction of the millions ploughed into installing new brand signage and instead created and managed an online website/e-business platform where people could select, order and pay for basic essentials from the safety of their own homes and have those items delivered in controlled circumstances. Such a move certainly would have helped protect employment, both for the company and its suppliers.
I have also been frankly amazed at the lack of response from major utility and service suppliers, well before lockdown, even when addressing repeated personal emails to their senior managers including managing directors. For some reason, the majority of them feel they have no obligation to respond, even when reasonable requests are made.
Equally you can attempt to contact employees at lower levels or follow the instructions on certain online or printed bills, stating ‘to share a compliment or make a query, email us at’, only to discover that address is not functional and has not been for some considerable period.
Like so many businesses, we are faced with the extreme challenge of having no anticipated earned income from which we can pay our monthly obligations. So the natural and sensible path to take is to reach out early, to our service providers and hopefully offset or mitigate those imminent upcoming charges.
Our banks appear equally indifferent.
Yes, some may have deferred principal payments, but monthly and other charges have remained the same, despite severely reduced or the provision of non-existent services. Well before the crisis, we had given up expecting a local branch manager or employee to return voicemail or email messages, either at all, or in a timely manner.
The only remaining option is to hang-on to the telephone for an indefinite period, hoping to speak to someone that can first understand and then resolve even minor banking queries in less than two hours, usually from a remote ‘customer-care’ location in Jamaica, Latin America or God knows where.
During the prolonged Coronavirus crisis, hopefully the directors of these entities will spend a little of their newly acquired enforced leisure time in self-isolation, reflecting exactly how they intend to do business in the future, so there will be marked improvement, as and when, our economy recovers.
Poor and unacceptable customer service seems to have become rife among many of our commercial organisations and one is only left to assume that this has been accepted as the ‘norm’ by those at the highest level.
The current crisis has left many consumers with the available time to seek out and implement better working alternatives and who will be loathed to return to a sea of trading mediocrity and previous compromise.
Let us use this opportunity to bounce back with an improved way of conducting business.
Clearly, some of our captains of industry can do a great deal better.
Last week Minister of Health Jeffery D. Bostic advised the nation that critical equipment needed by Barbados to fight COVID 19 was being blocked by the United States of America. In the case of Barbados it was 20 ventilators, Cayman 50, 000 masks, Bahamas a country with a close relationship with the USA has also experienced issues clearing PPE originating in the USA.
The restriction on export of critical equipment can be traced to President Trump invoking powers under the Defense Production Act.
… the order gave the federal government more control over the procurement of coronavirus-related supplies, it also allowed the administration to ban certain exports. Trump invoked the act following a Twitter attack against U.S. manufacturer 3M over the export of its highly sought N95 respiratory face masks.
We can discussed the action by the USA from a few perspectives, one being the role of a developed country like the USA in the global humanitarian effort. What the action by the USA has exposed is that we live in a world where the sovereignty of nations will be tested. Governments of SIDs will have to find ingenious ways to implement frameworks for functional cooperation to optimally procure and deploy resources to ensure OUR citizens are protected. Since the launch of globalization, a wave of protectionist polices by developed countries makes the contrivance of the concept an opportunity for developing state to be perpetually trapped in a state of being poor.
One of the more instructive videos being shared in the social media space is one featuring Vivian Balakrishan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, it is a must watch. One of the key takeaways for the blogmaster is the confidence with which he spoke about the committent of all citizens of Singapore to being disciplined at an individual level to ensure decisions taken by government are efficiently executed. One of several conclusions that can be made is that Barbados and many countries across the world have a long way to go if we are to wear the label a mature people, mature nations.
The blogmaster thanks Amit and the Anonymous member for sharing important links responsible for this blog – David, blogmaster
At the outset of the Coronavirus crisis in this country, the Hon. Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, hosted a consultation with members of the Social Partnership and me at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, to plan strategy for fighting this threat. I was impressed and congratulated her on the approach. I then went on to say to her that this was not a time for political controversy and that all sides must come together to defeat this scourge.
Rather than busy itself with measures to protect the people of this country, some twelve days after the consultation, Government rushed to Parliament and passed legislation that was already on the books, to manage the ensuing crisis. In essence, that legislation amended the Emergency Management Act by re-enacting certain provisions that already existed at section 28 of the same act; also at sections 2 and 3 of the 1939 Emergency Powers Act; and at section 25 of the Constitution. The amendment also went on to give powers to the Chief Medical Officer that he already had since 1969.
Needless to say, those initial steps did not give me any confidence that Government was capable of handling the situation, however I remained quiet hoping that somehow that they would get it right. I’ve tried to hold my peace but the situation has now reached a stage that I am compelled to speak-up before these bunglers unintentionally kill us all.
The handling of this crisis has been plagued with the bungling that is now characteristic of anything that this administration touches. So far, were are told that there is no evidence of any community spread of the virus. But it would seem that the end result of the Government’s initiatives would lead to what we fear most. What did the Government think would happen when it gave one day’s notice of a 24-hour curfew? As was reasonably foreseeable, people rushed to supermarkets in their thousands, ignoring any suggestion of physical or social distancing. Take some sobering time to imagine what could have happened if there were any carriers of the Coronavirus in those lines?
As if Government fails to learn from its mistakes, post offices were opened for a limited period in order to allow pensioners to cash their National Insurance pension cheques. The foreseeable result happened: hundreds of vulnerable persons throng the post offices thereby creating an incubator for the spread of the Coronavirus.
This virus is deadly and Government must come up with a series of measures that would protect the people of this country. These hit or miss initiatives just will not do.
It has been reported the Trinidad and Tobago government through National Security Minister, Stuart Young has again refused to receive 33 CITIZENS stranded in Barbados since the week of March 23, 2020 back into the country.
The Barbados government attempted to piggyback on an arrangement with the European Union who sent a plane this week to collect Europeans stranded in the Caribbean. Barbados was the hub for the operation with the plane scheduled to pickup passengers in Tobago. It was an opportunity for the 33 stranded Trinidadians to bum a ride to Tobago which is a hop skip and a jump from Trinidad.
We are the only nationals in the world who are denied entry into our country. He said his countrymen who were mainly people over 65 all broke down in tears –Nationnews.com
What is the reason for the Trinidad government exercising this level of intransigence towards its citizens? There is no logical explanation if the consideration was taken that the stranded Trinidadians have been in quarantine in Barbados since April 8, 2020. It also puzzles why the Trinidad government would have sent COVID 19 test kits to Barbados this week costing USD2500.00 after the group was quarantined with the expectation existing protocol in Trinidad requires the group enter quarantine again IF they eventually are allowed to return to the land of birth. All rather strange.
The blogmaster is of the view the Rowley government is ‘pissed’ at the group for engaging in non essential travel. Rowley should expect to see this issue when he checks the rear view mirror come general election time.
The Trinidad government owns a regional airline for crissakes.
The blogmaster changed the title submitted – David, blogmaster
If your house was flooded with water, and the water level was rising, what would you do? The obvious solution would be to close the water faucet, and then start cleaning up.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com
The stay-at-home-order in the ancient Hindu epic
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago delivered his address today (April 6) to update the nation on Government’s plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is not the first time that he has made repeated references to the Bible only, and not to the Quran or Ramayana.
Understandably, he is a Christian, but his national address must include references to the major religious groups in the multi-ethnic society. As former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had said, a Prime Minister must represent all of the people
Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers with the order: “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it.”
In his next address, Dr Rowley could also make a reference to the Ramayana, the largest ancient epic-poem in world literature, written about 700 BCE.
The allegory of the stay-at-home-order to avoid COVID-19 is represented by the sacred circle that was drawn around Sita’s hut to protect her from monsters in the forest.
Her brother-in-law, Lakshman, had drawn a circle in the sand with the tip of his bow while chanting a mantra (Lakshman Rekha). He said: “No demon can cross this line. Sita, you stay in the house; not for any reason at all will you cross this line. Don’t come out of the house. As long as you are in the house, you will be safe …”
In anxiety, Sita broke the directive and was kidnapped by the demon Ravan and taken in a flying chariot.
When that tragedy occurred, “the leaves did not flutter. The trees of Dandaka did not move. No breath of wind dared stir about the woods. The fast-streaming Godavari river slackened her speed from fright. The glorious Sun, who every day looks down upon our world, this time dimmed his light from the sadness of what he saw” (translated from Sanskrit by William Buck, 1976: 139).
Dr Kumar Mahabir
Of course, it is almost impossible to accurately predict exactly what is going to happen, as to when the global effect of the Coronavirus crisis is anything close to a foreseeable end. What is pretty much assured though is that nothing will be quite the same again, at least in the imaginable short to middle term future.
What we have to remember is that not only will tourism as we currently know it on Barbados change dramatically due to the devastating financial consequences on the industry locally, but for all other than a fortunate few the very visitor heartland of our major markets will have also been negatively affected. They too will have severely depleted spending power with the time to really consider or perhaps re-consider where they can spend what remains of those hard earned monies to obtain the very best value-for-money.
Our Government will lack the financial resources to plough into subsidizing the sector, having not been able to collect the estimated taxes and levies that ordinarily would have been paid over the tail end of the winter and early summer season.
My personal opinion is that our tourism industry will recover and flourish over time, but initially to aid that rebound will mean a radical re-think of how Government extracts so many additional taxes from our cherished visitors. Airlines which fly to Barbados will only restart services if they can see an attainable and reasonable profit on the route.
Almost certainly the British Government will be forced to remove the Advanced Passenger Duty (APD) and it would appear almost inconceivable that our administration could possibly justify one, let alone the two, airport departure taxes, Valued Added Tax (VAT) and all the other add-ons.
What can we do in the interim?
Well clearly there is a great deal of scope to clean-up the island, install recycling bins, paint and restore buildings, both public and private. The available labour and materials are already here together with the support of responsible civic-minded private sector partner companies. I also believe that our national marketing agency should dramatically ramp-up our destination visual presence throughout all the social media outlets.
Tempt people back with incredible and alluring images of our beaches, places of interest, attractions, activities and dining possibilities, so that when we re-open for business, a demand has been created.
While I do not fear the future for our land based tourism the cruise sector is a whole different story. It will take some time, together with prolonged fire-sale passenger fares, to once again entice substantial numbers onto ships which are capable of accommodating up to 6,000 passengers in severely confined spaces.
As the Caribbean remains the single largest cruise market by far, operators have a herculean tasks to persuade potential cruisers after incidents like the five ships flagged under the Princess brand (Carnival Corporation) experienced will not be repeated. And that safety and screening standards have been dramatically improved which will no longer remain a possible threat to the island destinations.
The following comment was posted by local microbiologist Dr. Robert Lucas to another blog – Bajans Jettison Social Distancing for Cheek by Jowl. The blogmaster regards it as one of the most important points shared on Barbados Underground since the status of COVID 19 was elevated by Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
David, Barbados Underground
Let me repeat what I have stated elsewhere on the Blog.
The curfew has to rigorously enforced. Once this is done, there is no need for contact tracing. I will explain.
Those who manifest symptoms are easily managed. It is person Z who comes into contact with a person (asymptomatic or beginning to show signs) and is unaware of the fact, who poses the immediate threat. By having the curfew and rigidly enforcing it, means that person Z is localized to a fixed area.
There will be more than one person who qualifies for the nomenclature Z. Since the curfew is rigidly enforced when the Zs become ill and use the hotline, hot spots are known. There will be a number of these hot spots. There should be isolated and all persons in the vicinity of the Z’ screened and placed into mandatory quarantine. No crap about voluntary quarantine.
For this method to work, it means that very tough enforcement it needed. None of this crap about human rights and individual liberty. Human rights and so on can be dealt with after the situation is under control…
Elsewhere on the Blog, I said that a twenty-eight day curfew was needed. I explain my reasoning as follows: there would be different viral incubation times for different individuals. Twenty-eight days would appear to be time for all individuals to show manifestations of the infection.
One of the saddest days in the few decades this blogmaster has lived in Barbados was yesterday. For close to five months Barbadians from the village to the heights have viewed on smart TVs and cellphone screens the havoc being wreaked on developed countries. Italy, UK, Canada, France, Japan and the USA are listed as G7 countries with significantly greater resources than Barbados. Despite a superior economic status the healthcare and capacity to apply meaningful logistics by these countries continue to be challenged by COVID 19.
On a related note the blogmaster followed a robust conversation making the rounds in Trinidad this week where Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith posted a video of a crowd outside Republic Bank standing cheek by jowl (thanks to Dr. Lucas for reminding of this old expression). Given the no nonsense approach Gary Griffith has taken to doing his job, there is wide speculation he will use his authority to shutdown businesses not observing established protocols designed to protect the health of the public.
The sights and scenes observed around Barbados yesterday although understandable was disappointing. If we accept the government have made errors, how does one explain the behaviour exhibited by a significant segment of the population BEFORE the decision by government to extend lockdown by not practising social distancing? The colossal ignorance of a few church leaders stating the church should be included as an essential service? Should the government have continued in a business as usual mode? Given the population density and the opportunity for aggressive community spread of COVID 19 infections it behoves the authorities to make decisions quickly in order to blunt the rate of infections in Barbados.
The urge at this time to engage in political opportunism must be set aside. The time for a post mortem of COVID 19 will come and a price paid if the electorate is so minded. If there is an opportunity to improve decision making, we have been told the government has an open door policy. Leaders of political parties should avail themselves of the offer and resist the urge to accrue cheap political points by retreating to social and traditional media with destructive positions. In case the memo was not received, COVID 19 is a pandemic responsible for the over 1.1. million people infected and 50 thousand dead across the globe at recent count. Is there good reason Barbados boast of being a highly literate country? The cheek by jowl behaviour exhibited yesterday by Barbadians outside supermarkets has buried that view.
The expectation by government Barbadians would have committed to a behaviour undergirded by self discipline is where it all went wrong. There is a reason why ‘totalitarian’ regimes have been reported to be doing a better job of combatting COVID 19. An assessment of the so called minibus/ZR culture, our propensity to litter, scant regard for road traffic laws, increasing crime etc etc etc supports the blogmaster’s view government was simplistic by expecting some Barbabaians would self quarantine or observe social distancing in the prevailing stressful climate.
Barbadians have to take pause after yesterday to reflect – assume personal responsibility and if after doing so we are unable to apply good sense to our actions then suffer the consequences.
What are the consequences?
All business owners caught serving the public if there is rowdyism outside the doors, must be told to close with immediate effect for a defined period of time until such time order is established.
If the Police observe same rowdyism, order the business to close for a defined period until such time order is establihed.
All business owners must be responsible for securing and managing crowd traffic to ensure compliance, failing to do so a fine and or a cease and desist order issued.
This is no time to allow ignorance to flourish to endanger the lives of the majority of Barbadians. The time for mollycoddling must come to an end now.
COVID CZAR Richard Carter informed the public yesterday that UWI modelling of the trajectory of the virus projects 100s of deaths if behaviours are not arrested NOW.
Hard ears wunna wont hear, own way wunna gine feel!
Submitted by Dr. Margaret Brito
The Government of Barbados should immediately create an emergency food disbursement system that would deliver free food directly to people’s houses free of cost and would continue for the duration of the lockdown.
The government needs to utilize every resource at its disposal to ensure that citizens can successfully live through this lockdown, this period of uncertainty. The uncertainty comes from officials here in Barbados not knowing how to manage this pandemic, and as the number of infections rise, not being able to get a grip on what the problem really is. However, they could have taken a leaf out of the books of African nations such as Senegal and Liberia, who from as early as February began testing for the corona virus and training medical personnel in hospitals to recognize and treat its symptoms, and nations such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia and Ghana, who from early March placed travel restrictions on Americans, Europeans and Chinese, because those governments quickly perceived that people of these nationalities travelling to African countries spread the disease. Our cousins on the continent are way ahead of us because they’ve suffered through epidemics like AIDS and Ebola, the experience of which spurred them to develop clear and viable responses to emergencies of this kind. Consequently, African nations report the least number of COVID-19 infections as a result of practical and swiftly implemented measures.
In Barbados, the pandemic has created intense fear among the population, which is articulated in a new “stay at home” orthodoxy. But staying at home, though a guaranteed way to slow down or even halt infections, is not a burden the people can afford to carry alone. The lockdown needs to be accompanied by solid governmental support, and once again, we can look to Africa for a practical approach. According to a report out of Malawi, the President of Kenya, Paul Kagame, is providing the people there with free food and electricity because “we cannot lock people in their homes and rooms in hunger,” a sentiment which goes to the root of the issue. People need to be able to easily stay in their homes, and must have the resources to remain at home. They should not have to venture outside for anything. If they cannot go out to procure what they need, then what they need must be brought to them.
I do not know how many people are receiving salaries from their workplaces or organizations during this time, or how may have been thrown under the bus. I do know several self-employed people who are struggling, as well as people who have very little funds or are completely broke. But regardless of whether they have savings or not, all citizens are entitled to governmental assistance during this emergency, a fact which several nations around the world have quickly recognized. Governmental assistance is essential, and must address the severest needs of the people, one of which is food.
The government should immediately create an emergency food disbursement system that would deliver food directly to people’s houses free of cost and would continue for the duration of the lockdown. Chief among the food items should be non-perishable items such as rice, dried peas and beans, sugar, flour, grains such as oats and other cereals, and pasta products; perishables such as milk, butter, eggs and bread; and other items such as tinned items, hygiene products such as medicated soap, toothpaste and cleaning products, in particular, bleach and vinegar. Other essential items are medications, food for pets and natural gas bottles. More categories can be added. Let each household choose about six categories of items, and let them have these items delivered to them in bales or cases, that is, in bulk, enough to last a family of five for about a month. I have bought rice by the half-bale and also large supplies of soap and toothpaste. That half-bale of rice lasted me several months because I’m a single person, and don’t eat very large portions now. I’m thinking a family with a man and woman with growing children and teenagers could live off the above for about two months.
Buy potatoes, green vegetables, fruit and herbs from the small farmers, the heroes of the future. Pay them well. Have a separate, more rapid delivery service for these perishables so people can have the required amount of green alkaline foods and vitamins to boost their immune systems.
Create a pool of delivery cars, vans, bikes or whatever, with delivery personnel in good health wearing masks and gloves and instructed in the best practices for handing objects to people. Draw this pool of delivery personnel from among small entrepreneurs and independent contractors, most of whom work hard and give pretty good services. Pay them well. Don’t let big businesses such as the large import companies and large freighting companies monopolize the process. This is no time for the rich to be profiteering off the poor.
Citizens should find it easy to access foodstuffs and meds, and should not have to jump through any hoops. All someone should have to do is say they have a need for food, provide their name and address, and they should be able to get what they need the same day or the following day at the most, especially if the items are medications being delivered from pharmacies. If this is organized properly, it could work efficiently. Also, people who are not citizens should have the same access to these services as anyone else. This is not the time for the government’s immigration policies to kick in.
Don’t place this food disbursement service under the control of inefficient entities like the Welfare Department, which has a deeply ingrained contempt for the poor and a civil service attitude that makes them one of the sloppiest of the government agencies. Create a new organism, allow it to be flexible, allow it to listen to and act upon the needs of the people.
The government should call upon the billionaires in the private sector to subsidize this process, because these billionaires did not become rich through any special entrepreneurial talent or skill of theirs, but because hard-working people, most of whom live from pay check to pay check take up their hard-earned money and give them in exchange for clothes, food, cars, hardware, financial services, marketing services, technology, everything you can imagine, and it’s time the billionaires gave back. They should take a leaf out of the book of Rihanna, the littlest billionaire of them all, who pulled her pocket during this crisis to give back to the people who made her the superstar she is. It’s called reciprocity. It’s one of the seven principles of Ma’at, an African spiritual and philosophical system that governed social order, political order and cosmic order in Kemit for millennia.
For the duration of the lockdown, citizens should be released from making rent and bill payments, mortgage and loan payments, and should not have to pay accumulated arrears.
The government should also take a leaf out of the books of countries like Canada and Australia, who have created stimulus packages for disbursement of cheques to people who need money.
The processes above should be made a reality from now, so that citizens can face this crisis with the assurance there are safety nets for them should their situations become more difficult.
It is not clear how long the lockdown would last. This lockdown might not be the last crisis we will experience this year. It could even be, as some suggest, the ushering in of a new socio-political order. The government should begin as of now to upgrade people’s ability to live in a paradigm in which human contact becomes unnecessary and even irrelevant.
Make sure people have the capacity to carry out every kind of transaction online. We should have the capacity to make any payment and receive any payment using computers and devices, easily and inexpensively. We should be empowered to carry on any type of business from home. We should also begin to reflect upon what communities would be like following the fear-induced social distancing, which is currently accompanied by frustration and uncertainty.
The corona virus is not just about a virus. The virus is only one element of a multi-dimensional global event in which greed in its most crass form is threatening to precipitate the implosion of a paradigm that has never served us well, and is best destroyed, even as its destruction appears to be driving people out of their minds. Barbadians, perhaps out of the fear of experiencing that which is even more fearful than what they’re now experiencing, have chosen to ignore the many events going on at this time, of which the virus is only one. Yes, seeing several monsters at once can scare the crap out of some people, but choosing to focus exclusively on only one of them prevents you from understanding the true nature of this 2020 spectre, and of developing appropriate mental attitudes and correct personal and collective responses toward it.
I like the attitude of the Maasai. I especially love this part of their bold statement, an articulation of their fearlessness in the presence of this monster, recognizing it to be but an old monster with a new face:
“The Maasai believe that the new CORONA virus christened COVID-19 is not as deadly as the Smallpox (ENTIDIYAI) virus that was released unto them in the 1880s by the British colonialists with the intention to annihilate them to pave way for them to occupy their land. The Maasai then, successfully used herbs to defeat the highly contagious smallpox virus and they can still use herbal medicine to conquer COVID-19. NO NEED TO WORRY.”
I did not know what to make of last night’s [1 April 2020] announcement. We continue to treat this COVID-19 as a political exercise. However, it seems to have finally dawned on someone that their political games will have fatal consequences.
Reproduced with permission, the text of Dr. Delisle Worrell – former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados – April 2020 newsletter:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has counselled countries around the world to implement four measures to minimise the risk of an explosive increase in cases of Covid-19. The measures are extensive testing, of persons who are judged to be at risk, whether or not they have fever, respiratory ailments or other symptoms; tracking down everyone who might have had contact with those testing positive for Covid-19; quarantining all those who test positive for Covid-19; and social distancing. Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the WHO, was at pains to stress that all four of these policies must be implemented in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Dr Ghebreyesus has also advised countries to take advantage of the pause that curfews, lockdowns and the stoppage of air travel afforded them, to prepare for a possible surge in Covid-19 cases. Barbados now has an opportunity to acquire test kits, personal protective gear and medical supplies and equipment, to cope with such an eventuality. Also, the country should ramp up our capacity for testing, the availability of quarantine and the creation of additional treatment facilities for the very ill. All medical personnel in the country should be tested as soon as possible, for their own peace of mind, as well as in the national interest. All workers at the port and airport, and those involved in the recent transfer of cruise ship passengers should also be tested, as soon as practical. Anyone with fever or respiratory symptoms should continue to seek medical advice, so they can be referred by a physician for possible testing.
Read full text @caribbeansignal.com – DeLisle Worrell: COVID-19: Saving Lives and Securing Livelihoods
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw just declared in a national address that 45 positive cases have been identified infected with COVID 19.
The following was posted by Peter Lawrence Thompson to another blog. Given the many unknowns about the COVID 19 virus the blogmaster thought it useful to repost. Obviously the target is the medical community – David, Blogmaster
This has a lot of medical jargon, but if you read it carefully it gives a picture of what front line medical staff are faced with. I was written by an Emergency MD in a New Orleans hospital – Peter Lawrence Thompson
“I am an ER MD in New Orleans. Class of 98. Every one of my colleagues have now seen several hundred Covid 19 patients and this is what I think I know.
Clinical course is predictable.
2-11 days after exposure (day 5 on average) flu like symptoms start. Common are fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias(back pain), nausea without vomiting, abdominal discomfort with some diarrhea, loss of smell, anorexia, fatigue.
Day 5 of symptoms- increased SOB, and bilateral viral pneumonia from direct viral damage to lung parenchyma.
Day 10- Cytokine storm leading to acute ARDS and multiorgan failure. You can literally watch it happen in a matter of hours.
81% mild symptoms, 14% severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, 5% critical.
Patient presentation is varied. Patients are coming in hypoxic (even 75%) without dyspnea. I have seen Covid patients present with encephalopathy, renal failure from dehydration, DKA. I have seen the bilateral interstitial pneumonia on the xray of the asymptomatic shoulder dislocation or on the CT’s of the (respiratory) asymptomatic polytrauma patient. Essentially if they are in my ER, they have it. Seen three positive flu swabs in 2 weeks and all three had Covid 19 as well. Somehow this ***** has told all other disease processes to get out of town.
China reported 15% cardiac involvement. I have seen covid 19 patients present with myocarditis, pericarditis, new onset CHF and new onset atrial fibrillation. I still order a troponin, but no cardiologist will treat no matter what the number in a suspected Covid 19 patient. Even our non covid 19 STEMIs at all of our facilities are getting TPA in the ED and rescue PCI at 60 minutes only if TPA fails.
CXR- bilateral interstitial pneumonia (anecdotally starts most often in the RLL so bilateral on CXR is not required). The hypoxia does not correlate with the CXR findings. Their lungs do not sound bad. Keep your stethoscope in your pocket and evaluate with your eyes and pulse ox.
Labs- WBC low, Lymphocytes low, platelets lower then their normal, Procalcitonin normal in 95%
CRP and Ferritin elevated most often. CPK, D-Dimer, LDH, Alk Phos/AST/ALT commonly elevated.
Notice D-Dimer- I would be very careful about CT PE these patients for their hypoxia. The patients receiving IV contrast are going into renal failure and on the vent sooner.
Basically, if you have a bilateral pneumonia with normal to low WBC, lymphopenia, normal procalcitonin, elevated CRP and ferritin- you have covid-19 and do not need a nasal swab to tell you that.
A ratio of absolute neutrophil count to absolute lymphocyte count greater than 3.5 may be the highest predictor of poor outcome. the UK is automatically intubating these patients for expected outcomes regardless of their clinical presentation.
An elevated Interleukin-6 (IL6) is an indicator of their cytokine storm. If this is elevated watch these patients closely with both eyes.
Other factors that appear to be predictive of poor outcomes are thrombocytopenia and LFTs 5x upper limit of normal.
I had never discharged multifocal pneumonia before. Now I personally do it 12-15 times a shift. 2 weeks ago we were admitting anyone who needed supplemental oxygen. Now we are discharging with oxygen if the patient is comfortable and oxygenating above 92% on nasal cannula. We have contracted with a company that sends a paramedic to their home twice daily to check on them and record a pulse ox. We know many of these patients will bounce back but if it saves a bed for a day we have accomplished something. Obviously we are fearful some won’t make it back.
We are a small community hospital. Our 22 bed ICU and now a 4 bed Endoscopy suite are all Covid 19. All of these patients are intubated except one. 75% of our floor beds have been cohorted into covid 19 wards and are full. We are averaging 4 rescue intubations a day on the floor. We now have 9 vented patients in our ER transferred down from the floor after intubation.
Luckily we are part of a larger hospital group. Our main teaching hospital repurposed space to open 50 new Covid 19 ICU beds this past Sunday so these numbers are with significant decompression. Today those 50 beds are full. They are opening 30 more by Friday. But even with the “lockdown”, our AI models are expecting a 200-400% increase in covid 19 patients by 4/4/2020.
worldwide 86% of covid 19 patients that go on a vent die. Seattle reporting 70%. Our hospital has had 5 deaths and one patient who was extubated. Extubation happens on day 10 per the Chinese and day 11 per Seattle.
Plaquenil which has weak ACE2 blockade doesn’t appear to be a savior of any kind in our patient population. Theoretically, it may have some prophylactic properties but so far it is difficult to see the benefit to our hospitalized patients, but we are using it and the studies will tell. With Plaquenil’s potential QT prolongation and liver toxic effects (both particularly problematic in covid 19 patients), I am not longer selectively prescribing this medication as I stated on a previous post.
We are also using Azithromycin, but are intermittently running out of IV.
Do not give these patient’s standard sepsis fluid resuscitation. Be very judicious with the fluids as it hastens their respiratory decompensation. Outside the DKA and renal failure dehydration, leave them dry.
Proning vented patients significantly helps oxygenation. Even self proning the ones on nasal cannula helps.
Vent settings- Usual ARDS stuff, low volume, permissive hypercapnia, etc. Except for Peep of 5 will not do. Start at 14 and you may go up to 25 if needed.
Do not use Bipap- it does not work well and is a significant exposure risk with high levels of aerosolized virus to you and your staff. Even after a cough or sneeze this virus can aerosolize up to 3 hours.
The same goes for nebulizer treatments. Use MDI. you can give 8-10 puffs at one time of an albuterol MDI. Use only if wheezing which isn’t often with covid 19. If you have to give a nebulizer must be in a negative pressure room; and if you can, instruct the patient on how to start it after you leave the room.
Do not use steroids, it makes this worse. Push out to your urgent cares to stop their usual practice of steroid shots for their URI/bronchitis.
We are currently out of Versed, Fentanyl, and intermittently Propofol. Get the dosing of Precedex and Nimbex back in your heads.
One of my colleagues who is a 31 yo old female who graduated residency last may with no health problems and normal BMI is out with the symptoms and an SaO2 of 92%. She will be the first of many.
I PPE best I have. I do wear a MaxAir PAPR the entire shift. I do not take it off to eat or drink during the shift. I undress in the garage and go straight to the shower. My wife and kids fled to her parents outside Hattiesburg. The stress and exposure at work coupled with the isolation at home is trying. But everyone is going through something right now. Everyone is scared; patients and employees. But we are the leaders of that emergency room. Be nice to your nurses and staff. Show by example how to tackle this crisis head on. Good luck to us all.”
Submitted by Alicia Bárcena Ibarra – Executive Secretary of ECLAC (United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)
Everything seems to be one gigantic mistake. We console ourselves by saying that everything has happened as it should not have happened. But it is we who are mistaken, not history. We must learn to look reality in the face; if necessary, we must invent new words and new ideas for these new realities that are challenging us. Thinking is the first obligation of the intelligentsia, and in certain cases it is the only one.
It is true that history recounts the devastating impact of past pandemics, but none of them broke out in such a populated world (with more than 7.7 billion people) or such an interconnected one, and with a planet that is ailing environmentally. This is the biggest human and health crisis we have ever faced. That assertion must serve as our guiding principle if we are to approach it effectively. It has, of course, profound economic implications, but the center of attention, the focus of public policy decisions, must be on safeguarding one of the most valuable global public goods in existence: people’s health and well-being.
With this in mind, it is fitting to mention that Latin America and the Caribbean will be impacted via five main external channels: the decline of economic activity in our principal trading partners, especially China; the fall in prices for our commodities; the interruption of global and regional value chains; the steep drop in demand for tourism services, which primarily affects the Caribbean; and an increase in risk aversion and the worsening of global financial conditions and capital outflows from the region, with the consequent devaluation of our currencies.
The onslaught of COVID-19 came at a bad time. Worldwide, 2019 marked the worst performance in the last decade (2.5% growth in GDP). In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, this performance was even more dramatic. To find worse growth levels than what the region recorded in the last seven years, one must look back as far as seven decades.
Just a few months ago, and after ending 2019 with poor regional growth of just 0.1%, ECLAC estimated that 2020 would witness a modest rebound and the growth rate would reach 1.3% of GDP. Today, a conservative estimate – based on data that is still in the process of stabilizing – tells us that Latin America and the Caribbean will record negative growth of -1.8% this year, with a probable downward bias.
The effects of this crisis on our main trading partners portend a decline in the value of our region’s exports that could reach a magnitude of -10.7%. This scenario entails a significant increase in unemployment along with heightened labor market informality.
The consequent effects of negative growth and higher unemployment translate into an increase in poverty and extreme poverty. If the base data is confirmed, in 2020 the number of poor people would rise from 186 million currently to 220 million, and the quantity of Latin American and Caribbean inhabitants who live in conditions of extreme poverty would rise from 67.5 million to 90.8 million.
This crisis finds us with fragmented health care systems and without universal coverage, where more than 47% of the population currently has no access to social security. A crisis that is particularly vicious for the 58 million people over 65 years of age in our region.
The challenge is enormous, and it demands that we renew our toolbox. Each country will have to creatively explore and expand the framework of its possible responses, recognizing that there are no known formulas, while also recognizing that there are some imperative steps to be taken.
In the current situation, it cannot be overlooked that massive fiscal stimulus is needed to bolster health services and protect income and jobs, among the numerous challenges at hand. The provision of essential goods (medication, food, energy) cannot be disrupted today, and universal access to testing for COVID-19 must be guaranteed along with medical care for all those who need it. Providing our health care systems with the necessary funds is an unavoidable imperative.
When we talk about massive fiscal stimulus, we are also talking about financing the social protection systems that care for the most vulnerable sectors. We are talking about rolling out non-contributory programs such as direct cash transfers, financing for unemployment insurance, and benefits for the underemployed and self-employed.
Likewise, central banks have to ensure liquidity so the production apparatus can guarantee its continued functioning. These efforts must translate into support for companies with zero-interest loans for paying wages. In addition, companies and households must be aided by the postponement of loan, mortgage and rent payments. Many interventions will be needed to ensure that the chain of payments is not interrupted. Development banks should play a significant role in this.
And, certainly, multilateral financing bodies will have to consider new policies on low-interest loans and offer relief and deferments on current debt servicing to create fiscal space.
It is also urgent that unilateral sanctions and blockades, imposed in the world and in our region, be lifted, because they hamper entire populations’ access to goods and services that are indispensable for fighting this sanitary challenge. Today, humanitarian considerations come before any political differences. Health cannot be held hostage to geopolitical quarrels.
This is a complex time, and it comes as our planet is ailing. It is experiencing one of its worst phases in environmental terms, with polluted oceans and rivers, devastated forests, eroded soil, mass extinction of species, and altered climatic cycles. This must be the time to reflect on the unsustainability of the extractivist and unequal development model.
This new health crisis has exposed the fragility of this globalization and of the development model on which it was based. The breaking of supply chains, the decline in global growth, and the performance of financial markets have exposed the global vulnerability of our economies. In light of the evidence of this crisis, the global community will have to face the fact that globalization did not work as promised and it must be reformed.
The decoupling between financial markets and the real economy’s flows must be contained and regulated. International trade is not an inevitable driver of long-term growth without policies for diversifying and transforming production. Inequalities, between countries and within them, aggravate the fragility of the global system and must be rolled back.
This pandemic has the potential to transform the geopolitics of globalization, but it is also an opportunity to survey the benefits of multilateral action and make room for needed debate on a new, sustainable and egalitarian development model. Because, “if necessary, we must invent new words and new ideas for these new realities that are challenging us.”
Discuss for 50 marks.
Well, I have finally gotten the message – the threats are now too personal to ignore. To balance the safety of my family, and my duty to Barbados, these will be my final recommendations on COVID-19. They are to cover Stages 2 and 3.
The accusations are, of course, baseless. Asking basic questions is not breaking rank. Questioning is normal when the four steps to develop national plans are not followed.
Step 1 is to develop a draft plan. Step 2 is to present that plan for rigorous public scrutiny (since the public are stakeholders). Step 3 is to analyse the feedback and finalise the plan. Step 4 is to implement the plan.
Both administrations typically only do Steps 1 and 4. There is rarely critical review. This results in either stubbornly staying with a failing plan, or making band-aids under pressure to a weak plan.
The media should be asking pertinent questions, but they seem to have gotten the message a long time ago. They make press conferences as meaningless as a soap-opera. How about asking some of these questions.
The Government claimed that they will be spend $30M to build quarantine sites and respond to this virus. How is the Government procuring the $30M in goods and services?
No-bid contracts normally cost the public two to five times what the contract is actually worth. Is the Government using the same corrupting no-bid contracts for contractors, consultants and supplies? What qualifications are needed to share in the $30M to be disbursed?
The Government promised to appoint a contractor general to put an end to these corrupting no-bid contracts. How is that progressing? Why not start prequalifying Barbadian business right now, instead of automatically disqualifying most of them with the sorry excuse of urgency?
The hurricane season is approaching. We should not be constructing sub-standard buildings in Barbados, especially after turning the six-storey NIS building into rubble. So, to what category of hurricane are the buildings being built? Also, to what magnitude of earthquake? How durable are they?
I dare our established media to ask just one of these questions. Once they realise that the sky has not fallen, perhaps they will be less terrified – and ask another.
In preparation for Stage 2, we should assume that at least one person in our household will get the virus, and plan accordingly.
1. Supplement Diet
If I got the virus, then I would strengthen my body so that it can fight for me – as it has always successfully done. I would add to my daily diet: 1,000 mg of Vitamin C, at least one table-spoon of Blackstrap molasses, and at least five table-spoons of Apple Cider Vinegar.
You can purchase one gallon of blackstrap molasses from the sugar bond area of the port for $2, but carry a clean wide-mouth container. You only need a quarter of that, so distribute the remainder to others.
Ultra-violet sunlight is an effective disinfectant. Therefore, everyday, I would open every window curtain and let the sun shine in. I would also open the windows (with insect screens) to ventilate the house. Therefore, maintain some insect mesh and duct tape to keep out flies and mosquitoes.
If I got the virus, I would spend my days near a window where I can get natural light, and breathe clean air.
3. Flush Closed Toilets
COVID-19 RNA has been confirmed in blood and stool samples of some infected persons. Droplets from the toilet have been found on bathroom ceilings after flushing. Therefore, droplets can reach the bathroom’s sink (and any exposed toothbrushes) and towel rack. I would insist that everyone in my household close the lid when flushing the toilet.
Many infected persons have had diarrhea. You are likely to go through toilet paper more rapidly in that condition. Therefore, I would try to maintain 12 rolls of toilet paper for each member of my household.
4. Disinfect Shoes
Not everyone will stop their habitual spitting. The COVID-19 can exist for hours in the air and days on surfaces. You may step on someone’s spit, especially after it rains. Therefore, spray disinfectant on the bottom of your shoes before entering your house, and on your car mats when you get home.
5. Clean Pet Trays
If you feed pets outside, then clean their trays. Uneaten food attracts birds. Birds can step in the same spit and bring the virus to you, so do not attract them.
6. Invest in Yourself
If you are quarantined, then do not squander this opportunity. Take maximum advantage of our double taxation agreements with various countries, especially the US, and grow your Internet based business.
Between managing your business and your household, learn something new. There are many free on-line courses that Universities offer. Take one that can improve your productivity and increase your earnings, then take another.
Please do not waste this time with only entertainment (watching movies and reading fiction). Instead, recharge.
Accept that you may likely get infected, and perhaps more than once. Therefore, maintain your household supplies, and use this opportunity to cultivate a closer relationship with your Creator.
I have been asked how I know so much. I have worked in disaster areas over the past 2 decades, where the economy came to a halt. In those situations, there is normally no economic activity, nothing to purchase, and no reliable government services.
I have had over 12 deployments to Haiti, when cholera had infected about 800,000 people and killed about 10,000. One member of my team actually had cholera while I was there.
I am also doing doctoral research, and the doctoral research community is rich in cutting edge knowledge. I critically review others’ research and they critically review mine. Why? Because we want to do research that will benefit humanity. Critical review is the most effective method of achieving that aim.
The following is a health presentation by Dr Elliot Doughlin how to help the body fight against Carnivorous – COVID19.