March 29th 2021
ULP CELEBRATES 20 YEARS IN GOVERNMENT
The Unity Labour Party ULP administration is celebrating its 20thanniversary since assuming the reigns of governance in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The ULP first won general elections on March 29th 2001, with a 12-3 victory. During a radio program yesterday titled Achievements, Overcoming Challenges, Political Leader of the ULP and Prime Minister DR Hon Ralph Gonsalves expressed gratitude to supporters past and present candidates and all those who were instrumental in this achievement.
PM Gonsalves also made special mention of the late Sir Vincent Beache for his remarkable leadership. The PM said despite the challenges, the achievements over the past 20 years have been phenomenal. He spoke to the immediate broad initiatives that were embarked upon when the ULP came to office to transform the economy.
PM Gonsalves made the point that it was recognized that in order to transform the economy the education sector would play an important role and noted how his government went about to implement the education revolution which is one of the hallmark achievements of the ULP government.
Dr Gonsalves further spoke to other initiatives that were undertaken on the quest to transform the country’s economy.
Former Deputy Political leader of the ULP, Deputy PM and MP for Central Leeward, Sir Louis Straker who was also a part of the 2001 winning team also spoke to some of the ULP’s achievements. Sir Louis highlighted that good governance and transparency was urgent on the ULP administration’s agenda.
Sir Louis further spoke to the sound fiscal policy of the ULP administration over the years.
Straker stressed the position of the ULP administration to uplift women and the youth and to provide equal opportunities for all.
NEMO STATE ELEVATED VT EARTHQUAKES STOPPED ON MARCH 26TH
The period of elevated volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes which began on 23 March 2021 stopped on March 26, 2021 a release from the National Emergency management Organisation NEMO said.
A release from NEMO said since then, the only seismic activity being recorded are small low frequency events associated with the growth of the dome.
It adds that these kinds of events were dominant before March 23, 2021 and their rate of occurrence does not appear to have changed as a result of the volcano tectonic earthquake swarm. The new dome continues to grow towards the Leeward and Windward sides of the Volcano with the most active gas emissions being at the top of the new dome, as well as the contact areas between the pre-existing 1979 and 2020/21 dome. A drone survey of the dome conducted on March 19 indicates that approximately significant new material nearly double in size, has been added to the dome since the last survey on February 12. Measurements of CO2 in the soil were conducted on the lower Windward sides of the volcano and fieldwork was carried out in the lower parts of the Wallibou river.
The seismic station located at Fancy was successfully repaired by technicians at the Soufriere Monitoring Unit on Friday, March 26. This station is once again streaming data into the monitoring network. The alert level remains at Orange.
The National Emergency Management Organisation is reminding the public that no evacuation order or notice has been issued. NEMO is also encouraging residents especially persons living in communities close to the volcano to be prepared in the event that it becomes necessary to evacuate at short notice. NEMO continues to appeal to the public to desist from visiting the La Soufrière Volcano, especially going into the crater, since doing so is extremely dangerous. NEMO will continue to provide regular updates on all activities taking place at the La Soufrière.
ST. LUCIA STEPPING UP ITS RESPONSE PLANS AS LA SOUFRIER DOME CONTINUES TO GROW
Saint Lucia is stepping up its response plans as the dome at La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continues to grow, reports from St Lucia say. Saint Lucia disaster officials say they held an emergency virtual meeting on Saturday to review the situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
As a result, they say they are ramping up plans in the event that the country has to receive evacuees.
In addition, local officials have said that they are also advancing plans to respond to the needs of residents of Dennery to Soufriere. The officials explained that in the event that La Soufrière explodes, those residents will experience ash and air quality issues depending on the direction of the wind.
Therefore, local disaster planners have already identified shelters for those residents and others who may have to evacuate. They say the planning has taken COVID-19 protocols into account.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION LAUNCHES MEDIA CAMPAIGN “GO CYBER SMART”
The Ministry of Education has launched a media campaign dubbed Go Cyber Smart to empower its primary stakeholders to make sound digital decisions. Coordinator of the campaign, Marla Nanton-James, explains what the #GoCyberSmart initiative is all about.
According to Mrs. Nanton-James, the campaign covers three broad areas – information security, hardware safety and navigating safely online. The #GoCyberSmart Campaign was launched on March 16, on the heels of the government’s recent distribution of tablets to facilitate students getting online. The activities are scheduled to run from March to June 2021.
PAHO SAYS CUBAN COVID 19 VACCINE HAS ADVANCED TO PHASE THREE CLINICAL TRIAL
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says work to develop a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in Cuba has advanced to the phase three clinical trial stage. Speaking during a recent COVID-19 digital briefing, PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, said Cuban vaccine manufacturers commenced phase three trial activities two weeks ago.
This included pilot vaccinations involving volunteers, and usually precedes World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification for widescale distribution or emergency use. Dr. Barbosa said the entity is facilitating communication between the manufacturers and the WHO on developments relating to the prequalification arrangements. He advised that the manufacturers are aware of the criteria they must fulfil to secure WHO prequalification.
“When they finish phase three clinical trial engagements, based on the results they will have about the vaccine’s security and efficacy, they can apply to receive prequalification or emergency use listing,” Dr. Barbosa further informed.
He said that, thereafter, the vaccine will be considered for procurement by PAHO’s Revolving Fund on behalf of the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. Dr. Barbosa said the phase three trial timeline for the vaccine will be guided by the rate of COVID-19 transmission and extent of testing.
March 25th 2021
ALERT FOR LA SOUFRIERE REMAINS AT ORANGE
The alert level regarding the La Soufriere Volcano remains at Orange and no evacuation order or notice has been given following reports of increased activities at the volcano yesterday.
However, the National Emergency Management Organisation NEMO is encouraging residents especially persons living in communities close to the volcano (i.e., the Red and Orange Volcanic Hazard zone), to heighten their preparedness in the event that it becomes necessary to evacuate at short notice.
Monitoring scientists at the Belmont Observatory led by scientists from The UWI Seismic Research Centre (SRC) have noted a change in seismic activity associated with the ongoing eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.
Up until 23 March 2021, the seismic activity had been dominated by very small low-frequency events which were associated with the ongoing extrusion of the lava dome. These were almost always only recorded at the seismic station closest to the dome. Starting on 23 March 2021, the monitoring network recorded a swarm of small low-frequency seismic events which lasted for about 45 minutes.
According to NEMO these events were different from previous activity in that they were also recorded on other stations. These events were probably associated with magma movement beneath the dome, although their depth cannot be determined. This is the first time that such a swarm has been seen since the seismic network was upgraded in early 2021. On 23 March 2021, the monitoring network started recording volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes.
These earthquakes are normally associated with underground fractures of the rock mass and are commonly generated by magma pushing through an unyielding rock mass. The volcano-tectonic earthquakes were located beneath the volcano, at depths down to 10 km below the summit. The largest of these had a magnitude of 2.6. Some of them have been reported felt by people living in communities close to the volcano such as Fancy Owia and Sandy Bay. At the present time the volcano-tectonic earthquakes continue, with the numbers of events fluctuating. The very-small dome-extrusion events also continue. The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) wishes to inform the public that earthquakes associated with the ongoing eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano continue to occur from time to time and some of the largest ones may be felt.
The La Soufrière Volcano continues to be closely monitored by a locally based team consisting of scientists from the Soufriere Monitoring Unit (SMU), The UWI Seismic Research Centre (SRC) and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO). This team work closely with an extended group based at the SRC (Trinidad) and MVO (Montserrat). The Team Lead at this time is Vincentian Professor Richard Robertson. The monitoring network use a variety of techniques to monitor the volcano that are constantly being improved and upgraded.
Prime Minister Dr Hon Ralph Gonsalves who is currently out of state while speaking on radio this morning says that he is keeping in touch with the relevant personnel and has urged that citizens remain calm, listen to the experts and continue with their preparations in the event that things get worse.
Professor Dr Richard Robertson Head of the Seismic Research Center of the UWI while speaking at a forum last evening again urged that persons continue to be prepared and take what is happening now as a further warning. Prof Robertson said that fortunately the volcano for the past three months or so has been erupting quietly but now it has changed and has started to give something that can actually be felt and this is enough warning that more serious things can take place.
Director of NEMO Michelle Forbes says that NEMO has now moved in heightened sense of alert and has also urged that residents in the affected areas especially should also be in a state of heightened readiness just in case there is an explosive eruption.
SVG RECORDS 12 NEW COVID 19 POSITIVE CASES
St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded twelve (12) new positive cases from one hundred and eighty-nine (189) samples collected on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021, giving a positivity rate of 6.3%.
Six (6) new recoveries were reported, bringing the number of total recoveries to fifteen hundred and thirty-five (1535). One hundred and seventy (170) cases remain active and ten (10) persons with COVID-19 have died. One thousand, seven hundred and fifteen (1715) cases of COVID-19 have been reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since March 2020. The public is urged to continue to use masks, sanitize, physically distance and get vaccinated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND SVG HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY TO DEEPEN AND BROADEN US-VINCENTIAN BILATERAL TIES
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines House of Assembly on March 18th met virtually to deepen and broaden U.S.-Vincentian bilateral ties.
The meeting, part of the House Democracy Partnership (HDP), heard members discussing their legislatures’ role in the COVID-19 pandemic response, vaccination rollout plans, and the legislative process in each country. Representative David Price (D-NC), Chairman of the HDP, specifically noted Representative Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) commitment to expanding HDP dialogues to the Eastern Caribbean.
Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) completed the bipartisan U.S. delegation. On the Vincentian side, the Honorable Rochelle Forde, Speaker of the House of Assembly; The Honorable Curtis King, Minister of Education and National Reconciliation; The Honorable Ashelle Morgan, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly; Dr. The Honorable Godwin Friday, Leader of the Opposition; and Honorable member of the Opposition Fitzgerald Bramble joined the conversation.
U.S. Ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Linda Taglialatela opened the meeting and noted that as a member of the UN Security Council for the past two years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been at the forefront of many global issues alongside the United States. The Ambassador said that at the heart of every strong democracy is the ability to find compromise and build consensus. She added that bipartisan engagements like this one highlight that this is achievable. Mrs. Taglia-latela expressed the hope this is the beginning of many more discussions among legislative counterparts.
Established by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005, HDP uses peer-to-peer exchange programs, training seminars for members and staff, and targeted material assistance to exchange views with international partners on legislative oversight, budget analysis, committee operations, constituent relations, and library and research services.
SVG PRISON SERVICE TO RESUME VISITS TO HM PRISONS
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prison Service has announced that visits to Her Majesty’s Prisons, at Kingstown and Belle Isle will resume on Thursday April 1st, 2021.
The Prison Authority said the visits will be allowed under specific conditions there will be a maximum of ten visits per day, each Inmate would be allowed two visits per month, each visit would be for a duration of ten minutes, only two persons may visit an Inmate at a time, visits will continue to be facilitated by appointments only, proper identification MUST be presented before the visit is allowed and the standard Covid-19 protocols must be adhered to at all times.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL URGES CARICOM TO CONTINUE ITS ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH HAITI
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday encouraged the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to continue its active engagement with Haiti to try and resolve the ongoing situation there.
The security council, which is being presided over by the United States, said in a statement that it “recognises the important role of neighbouring countries and regional organisations such as the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States (OAS) and, underlining the importance of harmonised, coordinated and strengthened efforts, encourages them to continue their active engagement on Haiti”.
Last month, the security council received a report from the secretary-general and also held a briefing on Tuesday with the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).
In its statement on Monday, the Security Council expressed its deep concern regarding the protracted political, constitutional, humanitarian, and security crises in Haiti. It stressed that the democratic will of the Haitian people must be respected, and underscored the need to address essential security, transparency, and logistical considerations in connection with upcoming electoral processes.
“The security council reiterates the urgent need to hold free, fair, transparent, and credible legislative elections that have been overdue since October 2019. The security council also urges that all preparations be made for free, fair, transparent, and credible presidential elections in 2021,” it said, further urging all political stakeholders to set aside their differences in the interest of the people of Haiti, to engage constructively to enable the organisation of upcoming elections, and to ensure elections take place in a peaceful environment.
March 24th 2021
THREE NEW COVID 19 CASES RECORDED
Three new positive cases of COVID 19 have been reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from one hundred and eighty-nine (189) samples collected on Monday, March 22, 2021, giving a positivity rate of 1.6% Six (6) new recoveries were reported, bringing the number of total recoveries to fifteen hundred and twenty-nine (1529).
One hundred and sixty-four (164) cases remain active and ten (10) persons with COVID-19 have died. One thousand, seven hundred and three (1703) cases of COVID-19 have been reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since March 2020. The public is urged to consistently use masks, sanitize, physically distance and get vaccinated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
PROFESSOR ROBERTSON URGES PERSONS LIVING NEAR TO LA SOUFRIERE TO BE PREPARED
Persons living in close proximity to the La Soufriere Volcano have again been advised to be prepared in the event of a volcanic eruption. Professor Richard Robertson of the Seismic Research Centre issued this reminder recently, advising that plans must be in place in order to minimize the impact of a volcanic eruption.
Professor Robertson also again warned of the dangers of visiting La Soufriere Volcano at this time. He noted that persons who venture towards this area face serious risk. He said persons who venture up to the volcano can also endanger the lives of others.
The team of Scientists monitoring the ongoing effusive eruption of the volcano has indicated that gases coming from the new dome are acidic and can possibly cause respiratory harm to human beings.
They can also possibly cause unconsciousness and difficulty breathing. The gases can also have a corrosive effect on the skin and eyes, even with short exposure.
MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT HON SENATOR JULIAN FRANCIS APPEALS TO MINI BUS OPERATORS TO IMPROVE THEIR SERVICES
Minister of Local Government and Urban Development Hon Senator Julian Francis has again issued an appeal to minibus operators to make an effort to improve on the services currently being provided to the general public.
Francis who served as Minister of Transport for fifteen years while speaking on radio last evening said that while he served as Minister, he offered many suggestions and recommendations to the minibus association at the time, in an attempt to address the issue but it is yet to be addressed. He highlighted some of the challenges of minibus operation here currently and made the point that this attitude must be changed or the government may be forced to introduce a state runned public transportation system.
Minister Francis says that he prefers to see the public transportation system be runned by responsible private sector and appealed to the operators to invest in proper public transport in order to provide adequate, comfortable and safe commute to the general public.
Minibuses here are currently being operated at a reduced capacity due to the COVID 19 pandemic and the related health risks.
RSVGPF AND MIN OF HEALTH CONDUCTING COVID-19 VACCINATION CLINIC
The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is today conducting COVID-19 vaccination clinic for staff at Police Headquarters as part of the ministry’s national vaccination programme.
Today’s exercise is also geared towards members of the general public wo are desirous of being vaccinated on Wednesday March 24, 2021,
The clinic is being held in-front of Central Police Station between 9 am and 4:00 pm. All persons who are interested in being vaccinated against the Coronavirus are invited to attend.
ULP ADMINISTRATION WILL CELEBRATE ITS 20TH YEAR IN GOVERNMENT ON MARCH 28TH
The Unity Labour Party ULP administration will on March 28th celebrate its 20th year in government in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The ULP’s General Secretary Julian Francis while speaking on radio last evening said that due to the current circumstances that exist with the COVID 19 pandemic, the usual celebratory activities will not take place. Francis said however that a virtual event will take place on the 28th to keep the supporters and well-wishers entertained for the celebratory occasion.
The ULP administration was first elected on March 28th 2001, with a 12- 3 victory, then again in 2005, then in 2010 and 2015 with an 8-7 victory then in 2020 with a 9-6 victory.
ST. KITTS NEVIS PREMIER REACHES OUT TO THE USA FOR A DONATION OF COVID-19 VACCINES
Premier Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis has reached out to the United States asking for a donation of COVID-19 vaccines for the Federation and the wider region.
Minister Brantley submitted the request through the US Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, the OECS and Barbados, Linda Taglia-latela. He made the revelation during his presentation at a virtual forum which was hosted by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States on March 19.
The virtual forum was meant to address “Legal challenges faced by the Caribbean in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic." He said that the countries in the Caribbean continue to make the passionate plea that vaccines be made available to them with some alacrity. Mr. Brantley further noted that they are aware from reports in the New York Times that the United States of America has made vaccines available to Mexico and Canada.
Noting the challenges faced by the Caribbean and Latin America in their attempts to procure vaccines, Brantley urged the OAS Secretary-General for assistance in this regard. Saint Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister urged the OAS Secretary-General to be an advocate for the Caribbean. Mr Luis Amalgro, OAS Secretary-General, who was also a participant in the important forum, said he agreed with Minister Brantley’s position on equitable access to the vaccine for the region. The OAS Secretary-General said he too joins the call for equal access to and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
ST. LUCIA PREPARING TO WELCOME ITS FIRST INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SHIP
St Lucia is gearing up to welcome its first international cruise ship since closure to the sector amid the global COVID-19 pandemic a year ago.
The St Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) said in a statement on Monday that following considerable dialogue with local authorities, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line decided that the island will be a port-of-call on a mid-July itinerary that will see the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship make its first voyage of the season to the destination, as well as to sister islands and homeports of St Marten and Barbados on its Southern Caribbean route.
“We are enthusiastic that with the advent of science and technology amid this pandemic, we can prepare for a silver lining,” said St Lucia Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee. “The impact of the cruise sector has been noted the world over and its absence has left an impression on our island's people. We are therefore looking forward to working within strict protocols to see the successful resumption of the sector.”
Preliminary discussions with Royal Caribbean include a commitment that both passengers and crew over the age of 18 years would all have been vaccinated, full compliance to pre-arrival COVID-19 testing, and that tour operations would be conducted within a Green Corridor.
Additionally, all persons disembarking would be subject to the standard protocols of wearing a facemask, physical distancing, and sanitizing. The overall aim is to ensure that while the cruise sector can continue to benefit the local economy, as a collective, we can also ensure that our local populace is kept safe.
A special committee has been established to provide oversight of the resumption of cruise tourism which includes the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Port Health, St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, Invest St Lucia, Customs, Immigration, Port Security, Royal St Lucia Police Force, St Lucia Tourism Authority and Cruise Agencies — Cox and Company Limited and Foster and Ince.
Over the next few weeks, the committee will meet regularly to closely review and approve protocols for the resumption of the cruise industry, port health procedures, review of the terminal and its operations and logistics for the execution of excursions within the protocol.
Discussions are ongoing with several cruise partners that aim to see more vessels schedule their call into Port Castries in the near future.
Let's protect each other from COVID-19