Gemma Handy questions why Molwyn Joseph called a whole press conference instead giving a comment when asked


Gemma Handy, the Daily Observer Editor said yesterday she was slightly confused what exactly was inaccurate about a story published by the Observer that warranted a news conference.

The news paper reported that nurses at the airport were being severed and some payments were outstanding and Handy suggested the minister merely confirmed the report.

Handy also suggested to the minister that he is better off giving a comment to the media when asked.


“Clarification of a recent statement reported by the media regarding remuneration for nurses who were assigned to the Airport Port Health Station”



Among all frontline workers in the COVID-19 Pandemic thus far, nurses continue to play a pivotal role at all levels of our health care system including our ports of entry.



The role of those nurses who have been working at our ports of entry, particularly those assigned to the Airport Port Health Station is critical in minimizing the inherent health risks associated with international travel, during the COVID-19 Pandemic.



This role which involves mainly surveillance and screening is significant as part of the strategy in mitigating the impact of the COVID- 19 on our country through early detection of imported cases at the border, followed by isolation and contact tracing to contain and control the spread. The nurses background in public health equips them with the requisite skills to carry-out these functions effectively.



From the initiation of point-of-entry surveillance at the start of the pandemic, five (5) Public Health Nurses positions were created for the airport port health unit. This modest number which proved adequate during the lockdown, became evidently inadequate once the boarders were re-opened and the number of international flights and passengers gradually increased starting in June 2020.



This increased demand for surveillance staff lead to a decision to redeploy on a temporary basis, nurses from other areas of the health care system mainly from the Community Nursing Services, to provide the additional support at the Airport Port Health Station, as efforts to recruit new nurses was unsuccessful mainly due to persons being fearful of what was at the time, a disease about which very little was known compared to present.



The condition of the redeployment was that Community Health Nurses who expressed interest in assisting at the airport after completing their work at their respective clinics, would cover the late shift at the airport port health station which begins at 1:30 and ends at 10pm. This was done at least 2 days per week or when possible, which may or may not include weekend days. This was a temporary arrangement that was not expected last beyond the pandemic crisis. The nurses were compensated for this work in addition to their regular pay. Payments tended to be late but would eventually be made. To date, most if not all of the nurses have received payment up to March 2021. I have no reason to think that the outstanding payments though late, will not be paid.


I wish to use this medium to thank all of the nurses who have worked at the Airport Port Health Station and those who continue to work there, for their contribution thus far towards the protection of our boarders during the on-going COVI- 19 crisis, through the application of the various public health measures and response capacity utilized in their course of work, in helping to protect the health and well-being of travelers entering our borders and by extension, the people of Antigua and Barbuda.


Principal Nursing Officer

Margaret Smith

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    • For doing her job? Her job includes seeking comments on news items. The Minister probably needs to brush up on media training which isn’t just about public speaking.

      He is giving more life to the story and plight of the nurses this way.

    • Yes, keep it up ‘reader’. I prefer journalists who question EVERYTHING rather than those that go with the flow MSM just to cash their employment cheque at the end of the month. Ignorance must be bliss!

  1. Did Sir Molwyn answer any of the questions put to him?

    I have a difficulty when public official do not answer questions directly. They give a monologue that creates more questions.

  2. What does the lady asking question have to do with renewal of her permit, the ministers have been lying to us for along time if they are not competent step down . People need to stop being biased regardless of who party you support. These ministers did a lying job with almost everything they utter

  3. 4-month late-pay is surely a BIG story on its own?
    ‘Please work your community shift, then until 10pm at the airport, but we’ll pay you when we feel to’.

    “Payments tended to be late but would eventually be made. To date, most if not all of the nurses have received payment up to March 2021. I have no reason to think that the outstanding payments though late, will not be paid.”

  4. Gemma Handy,please stop asking questions in Antigua. The Health Minister does not understand the English language. He needs an interpreter. Then some a dem Red Kool Aid Drinkers no like you. Because you ask MALLWYN too many pertinent questions. He does not liked to be put on the spot.

    • @ wanna bee

      I’ll bet he won’t answer questions about hauling a Rolls Royce over the Port fence although he completely knows everything about that.


    You are a PLANTED UPP Reporter…. Stop singing for your support. Noone should expect any better. Gemma works for the CESSPOOL RADIO STATION. We would not RENEW your working permit.

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