Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the government could not say that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s latest travel advisory for Antigua & Barbuda was unjustified this time around.
On Monday, CDC raised the COVID-19 level for Antigua & Barbuda from Two: Moderate level to Four: Very high level — its highest ranking.
In the advisory to its citizens, the CDC said travellers should avoid all travel to Antigua & Barbuda as it may increase their risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Nicholas said the new ranking was “significant in the sense that we would still welcome any would-be business travel or even leisure travel to Antigua,” adding, “It’s not a restriction; it’s an advisory.”
The Information Minister conceded that the level four advisory was “consequential based on the results of our infections that are taking place at the moment.”
The Antiguan government objected when the CDC placed the country at the “very high” level in November of 2020.
At the time, Foreign Affairs Minister E. P. Chet Greene said the government was “shocked” at the rating, and following talks with the CDC, the ranking was improved to Two: Moderate level in the same month.
The Foreign Affairs Minister had argued the country had no clusters and community spread and “the level of infected persons remains relatively low at 139 with declining active cases, and only 4 deaths”.
However, the COVID-19 dashboard published on Thursday afternoon showed the country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases had skyrocketed to 803, with 455 active cases and 19 deaths.
Earlier on Thursday, Nicholas told reporters at Cabinet’s media briefing that “the results are in.”
The Information Minister admitted that the CDC’s ranking was “a consequence of the poor results that we have been getting, and so as we continue to manage that curve downwards and we improve on that; likewise, we would expect that the complement to that decision will also take place.”
“It’s nothing that we have any, you know, issue in terms of saying whether or not we had been unfairly treated, unlike the previous instance,” he said concerning the level four ranking.
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