CABINET NOTES of Wednesday, 1 September 2021

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HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday, 1 September 2021

 

Cabinet convened at 10:00 am and ended its sitting at 5:15 pm, all members participating, four virtually and the others face-to-face. The Cabinet celebrated Sir Robin Yearwood’s birthday, following prayers by the Pastor.

 

 

  1. The Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) was invited to Cabinet in order to provide an assessment of the current Covid-19 situation in the nation.

1.i. The highest number of infected people or “active cases” since March 2020, now appearing on the dashboard, total 349 cases. In the month of August 2021, 434 men and women and children tested positive for Covid: 26 hospitalized; 4 in the ICU; 9 in the ER (two confirmed, 7 awaiting test results); in the Covid Ward, 17 patients are confined, all un-vaccinated.

 

1.ii. The Acting CMO explained that many of those who now find themselves Covid-infected were disregarding the protocols, and clustering at the time when the virus entered into their noses or mouths. It is important to wear the mask properly and certainly not to let down one’s guard when in public spaces, the CMO repeated. Nonetheless, the sanitizing of hands, establishing a 3 feet to 6 feet space between oneself and strangers, and wearing masks properly, will ensure that one does not become infected.

 

1.iii. The Acting CMO also addressed the Cabinet on the number of beds at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center and noted that 77.78% of the beds at the hospital are taken by Covid-infected patients. Very few beds remain unoccupied at the hospital putting at risk others who fall ill from causes unrelated to Covid; those sick people will suffer un-necessarily if more beds are taken by Covid-19 patients. The 75-bed NTTC Center on Nugent Avenue will be made available from Monday, 6 September 2021; it had been vandalized by thieves who damaged air conditioning units in order to steal copper pipes, and engaged in other harmful activities.

 

1.iv. There are 14 active cases in Barbuda, one waiting to be transferred to Antigua.  8 positive cases at the Post Office, 2 positive cases at the Galley Bay Hotel, 4 positive cases at Sandals, 3 cases at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a number at the Public Works. At many Government Offices and at the Authorities and Corporations of the Government, it is now common to ask visitors whether they are or are not vaccinated; entry is properly denied those who are not vaccinated, if they are likely to infect others.

 

1.v. All the measures put in place last Wednesday, August 25, 2021, for a period of two weeks, in order to reduce the further spread of Covid, remain in effect. Nothing changes. Curfew begins at 8:00 pm and ends at 5:00 am. Bars and clubs remain closed; restaurants can only serve meals to go; churches may hold services but the limit of 25 is imposed; funerals and weddings are also reduced to 25 in the church, and to 10 persons at the cemetery and at the feast house.

 

1.vi. The evidence reaching the contact-tracing officials point to a disregard of quarantine conditions when men and women are assigned to homes; they unlawfully break the quarantine and go to the supermarket, to banks, and even to work, mixing with others. The Public Health Act places the responsibility on employers to ensure that those who have been placed in quarantine do not enter into workplaces; specially designated police will be assigned to removing those persons from work spaces and to ensure that they are placed in better-confined places from which they cannot stray.

 

1.vii. As the Covid infects more people, more nurses and other trained medical professionals are required to staff the new centers that are opening to meet the needs of the sick. The Cabinet agreed to employing more nurses, even temporarily, as the Covid-infected number rises; proper care requires additional personnel, the Acting CMO asserted.

 

1.viii. In the planning for the 40th Anniversary of Independence which takes place in eight weeks, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed entry to the ceremonial parade, the food fair (still uncertain) and the other events planned. Much of the celebration will be virtual, in order to avoid clustering.

1.ix. Several private medical practitioners who show an interest are to be provided with vaccines, in order for them to treat their patients. The vaccines will be cost-free but the services are likely to cost those who choose to receive vaccines from their doctors. Since storage of vaccines is controlled, the arrangements will have to be carefully planned in order to avoid wastage.

 

2.i. The Minister of Health and Wellness reported that more than 200 cylinders of oxygen are untouched, ready for deployment at the several Covid Centers should a need arise. Oxygen generators are also readily available to meet the increased demand for oxygen, in order to save lives. The Covid-19 disease is primarily a respiratory illness that affects the lungs and the ability to breathe.

2.ii. The Minister of Health urged all those who have received a single dose of the medicines, to return for the second jab in order to be fully vaccinated; to achieve protection above 90% efficacy, a second treatment is required for all those who earlier were inoculated. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has now arrived Antigua; it requires only a single dose, unlike all the others requiring two.

 

  1. The Cabinet celebrated the ownership of the Scotiabank assets by the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) effective Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The assertion that Scotiabank could not by itself determine to whom it could sell its assets, without first offering to sell to indigenous banks, was deemed preposterous by many. The radio talkshow experts were especially brutal in their rejection of the Gaston Browne administration’s insistence. The administration insisted, denying the signing of a vesting order until such an offer was made. The Scotiabank directors eventually conceded, and the sale was consummated to ECAB — 25% of whose assets are owned by interests in Antigua and Barbuda. The Cabinet celebrated this takeover. At least one other Caribbean jurisdictions followed suit, causing the intended purchaser to be rejected.

3.ii. The Royal Bank of Canada followed suit, it was noted, by offering its assets for sale to the Antigua Commercial Bank. ACB Caribbean also purchased the RBC’s assets in Grenada, making it a multi-national corporation with its roots in Antigua dating back to 1955. Both purchases caused the indigenous banks to grow, making them far more resilient than before, fulfilling a promise made.

  1. The Antigua and Barbuda expert whose responsibility is The Barbuda Energy Projectreported to Cabinet on the near-completion of the solar energy plant; it will make Barbuda the only island-community among sovereign states to achieve 100% green energy for its residents. This flagship project, the expert announced, continues to employ 31 workers in Barbuda. The plant will provide 100% of the energy to be consumed by residents in Codrington. A stand-by diesel plant has been added to ensure continuity of electricity supply in the event of a natural disaster. Batteries, costing more than $3,000,000 are also to be purchased in order to store energy for use at night when the sun no longer shines. An opening ceremony will shortly take place.

 

  1. The organizers of Crime Stoppers were invited to Cabinet in order to share the start of the program. The Head of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association (ABHTA), accompanied by the Commissioner of Police, both reported on the anonymity and confidentiality which the program affords. A person who witnesses something suspicious or criminal taking place calls 800-TIPS (800-8477) which is answered by an operator in Ottawa, Canada. That person calling remains anonymous to the answering operator. A report is filled-out by the telephone operator who then provides to the Police in Antigua the location and nature of the reported suspicious activity or crime. The Police can then act on the tip in order to stop the crime or catch the perpetrator. The identity of the person providing the “tip” remains unknown to the Police.

 

  1. The Minister responsible for APUA reported that the desalination plant to be installed in the Fort James area has been paid-for in full. It will produce more than 3,000,000 gallons of potable water daily from seawater. That plant will provide water for lower St. John’s, the northern and western parts of St. John’s, when completed. The challenge of leaks in the old cast-iron pipes in St. John’s, that bedevils APUA, will be corrected simultaneously upon bringing the new plant into operation. More deslination plants are on the drawing board since drought now seems to be the new normal in Antigua and Barbuda. More than 8 million gallons of potable water are produced daily using all three sources–desalination, surface water, and ground water. APUA is aiming for more than 14 million gallons daily as the economy grows and demand increases.

 

  1. The Prime Minister reported receiving a letter from the Secretary of the Barbuda Council protesting his Government’s decision to override a decision of the Council to lock down construction operations on Barbuda for two weeks, in response to an increase in Covid cases to 14, on Barbuda. The Cabinet took note of the Council’s letter. More than 350 workers are currently employed at two construction sites on Barbuda; there is no evidence linking the sites to Codrington’s increase in Covid infections.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Business owners & operators PLEASE ensure all your staff & customers wear masks correctly, distance & sanitize.
    It does offer everyone some much needed protection against delta & general covid.

    Sick of going to small business & service providers who don’t wear themselves nor do they enforce national regulations.

    Since when did Antiguans become so selfish and destructive?

  2. What happened to the monitor bracelets for quarantined individuals? If quarantined individuals can’t be trusted to stay home, then they should be put in a quarantine facility or supervised somehow. How can anyone be so selfish, self-centered, and just plain stupid to leave their home to go to public places or work and possibly infect others???!!! Such blatant disregard for the welfare of others. Its disgusting behavior. You should be ashamed…and arrested! In other parts of the World, when people knowingly expose others to infectious diseases, they are prosecuted. Is that not the case here in Antigua?

  3. APUA need to measure the amount of chlorine they put into the water properly. It is too strong. I had worked overseas for several years in a small of 35 square miles in the south Atlantic called Ascension Island. The island has one huge desalination plants which provides water for island. The chlorine in the water there you cannot smell it or tasted it like what experience in the APUA water we have here in Antigua. The water there tasted like a the drinking water we purchase here in bottles…very refreshing and purified. APUA water is too hash that it damages your household plumbings, fixtures, and appliances.

  4. Why are the government not enforcing their own law that businesses need to check vaccination cards before allowing entry? Because the government is not enforcing it businesses are just ignoring the requirement

  5. Where is the SHAME & APOLOGY to the people of A&B by the govt for allowing NTTC to be vandalized, having spent real money getting it ready for use???
    Did you not have security that patrolled hourly, inside & out?
    Did you not have a building maintenance supervisor that walked the plant twice a week, testing every item to ensure all was in working order?

    Nah, this is absolute B.S.
    Yet, it seems this is the way it happens over and over again, decade after decade.

  6. So, people infected by covid in MSJMC are unvaccinated according to ag. CMO.
    a) they should never have been in the hospital, we went thru all the rationale last year – your memories short or what?
    b) unvaccinated should be held/treated separately (with separate air handling) from general population and Vaccinated people.

    ag. CMO says approx. 78% general beds taken with covid infected patients.

    78% of 140 general beds = 109 COVID infected beds
    Less 26 dashboard hospitalized cases = 83 occupied beds with ‘covid infected patients’.

    Were these 83 PEOPLE infected WHILE INSIDE MSJMC????
    Straight and fast answer please

    This should alarm EVERY vaccinated or unvaccinated person; should you suffer a critical incident & go to hospital, according to the ag. CMO percentages, you stand very high risk of developing covid-19 to add to whatever ails your already compromised system.
    SCARY

  7. It is the proper thing to say that when one is on quarantine, one should not go anywhere. The funny thing is that we are not our brothers’ keeper. If someone is on quarantine, they should not be leaving their homes but did anyone inquire as to whether or not these people have food, toiletries and the necessities in their homes. I am not saying that people should not be held accountable for willfully transferring viruses from their body to others, but some need food and there is no one to help them. They may have called every friend they have and their friend cannot help them. What do they do then? We need to be our brothers’ keeper. It is an unfortunate situation and in case you do not realize it COVID is real and it has adverse effects on the body. Do friend check ups, they can be done remotely, give a call, send a message. Those of you that are currently on quarantine do not be afraid to ask for things when you need it. Someone can and will help you, remember we serve an awesome God. Keep praying, trusting and having faith.

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