(Press Release) Recognising the need for “All Hands on Deck”, in light of the unprecedented increase in COVID-19 cases related to the arrival of the Omicron variant in the OECS, The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean Commission (OECS) convened an Extraordinary Virtual MultiSector Meeting on COVID-19 and the Omicron variant on 11th January, 2022 at 9:30am to consider public health protocols, relevant supplies, and health system capacities in light of the experiences already seen in other parts of the globe.
The Meeting Chair, OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules, expressed the need for all stakeholders to be agile and proactive in the fight against the pandemic. Dr. Jules also called for a multi sectoral approach to increase the effectiveness of our interventions and reinforced support for CARPHA, as the leading public health agency in our regional efforts.
“Every sector, public and private, every business, every community, every family and every individual should be aware of, prepare for, and continue to take appropriate action during this wave- because together is the best way for us to face this challenge, minimise fallout and continue to thrive”
The Meeting included representation from regional OECS Ministries of Tourism, Health and Education, as well as representatives from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank ECCB, The Caribbean Disaster Management Agency CDEMA and the Caribbean Community CARICOM.
Participants of the meeting were provided a thorough briefing on the state of COVID-19 in our region, especially with the new Omicron variant threat, by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), as well as the Health Unit at the OECS Commission. Executive Director of CARPHA Dr. Joy St John presented on the realities of the pandemic with the introduction of the new variant, and provided some key recommendations to help tackle the virus across sectors.
The Meeting also received critical updates on the impact, concerns and needs in Education, Tourism and the Economy by the relevant Units at the OECS Commission. Interventions were made by Acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Authority (CTO) Mr. Neil Walters on the Impact of the new variant on Tourism, as well as from Acting Deputy Director of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Research Department Shernnel Thompson on its expected impact on the Economy.
The Ministers of Tourism, Education and Health present, as well as the Permanent Secretaries, Chief Medical Officers and other Stakeholders had the opportunity to engage in discussion on the issues raised, and provided some critical recommendations for consideration by the OECS Heads of Government during the 71st Meeting of the OECS Authority to be held later this month.
The OECS Director General reaffirmed the commitment of the Commission to effect appropriate action and to mobilize resources to assist all member states in our continued collaboration in addressing COVID19.