Antigua PM defends CARICOM countries Ebola travel ban
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
Prime Minister Gaston Browne today defended the decision by a number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to impose a travel ban on nationals from three West African countries because of the deadly Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people.
Browne, who is also the CARICOM chairman, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) just before boarding a plane for London that “the restriction is necessary”.
“Even if we end up with a single case of Ebola, it has serious consequences for our tourism product.
Most of our countries are dependent on tourism and I can assure you that if any of our respective countries has a single case of Ebola then you can see potentially it maybe a 30-50 per cent drop in tourism.
That means immense hardship for our people.”
Several Caribbean countries including Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia and Suriname have implemented restrictions on passengers travelling from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as a result of the virus for which there is no known cure.
Browne said CARICOM states need to go the extra mile to ensure that the virus is proactively managed as it has the potential to have grave consequences compared to other developed countries like the United States.
“They (the United States) have well-diversified economy that is not overly dependent on any on single sector and in our case you know the gravity of the problem would be far worse, the consequences will be far worse so we’ll have to go the extra mile,”
The CARICOM chairman acknowledged that the Caribbean is at a higher risk given the presence of the virus in the United States, but he says his country and others are implementing other measures to detect and, if necessary, treat the virus.
Such measures include the sourcing of protective wear and infrared thermometers.
“Even though one may argue that these individuals may fly to the United States and then travel to Antigua and Barbuda, at least there will be some first instance screening which will help to mitigate risk,” Browne said.
WATCH: JAMAICA NOW