Nearshore Americas
Caribbean covid updates

Covid-19 in the Caribbean: Delta Spoils “Reopening Party”

Although Covid-19 cases are declining considerably elsewhere in Latin America, some countries in the Caribbean are seeing a sudden surge in the number of new infections.

Barbados is seeing such a spike in new cases that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now warned against travel to the island.

Surprisingly, the pandemic is also wreaking havoc on the Cayman Islands, despite the fact that more than 84% of its adult residents are fully vaccinated.

Grenada reported more than 150 deaths during the month of September, largely due to the Delta variant. Jamaica is reporting seven Covid-19-related deaths on average every week, with the total number of fatalities inching towards the 2,000 mark.

But a large majority of countries in the Caribbean have reopened to international tourism, with protocols in place to keep the virus at bay. Some of them are even attracting digital nomads with fabulous remote-working programs.

Some island nations don’t even require you to wear masks if you are an American and fully vaccinated. However, most of them insist that you provide proof of a Covid-19 negative test result received 72 hours prior to your arrival there.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has long reopened restaurants and cinema halls for the public. The US territory has now vaccinated more than 80% of its population.

The island has lost more than 3,100 people to the virus, but new cases have declined dramatically. If you are fully vaccinated, you may have no need to wear a mask in an open area. If you are a fully vaccinated American citizen, you may have no need to provide a negative Covid-19 result.

According to the latest reports, occupancy levels at its hotels and resorts have reached almost 2019 levels on the island.

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Cuba

The pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to the island, with the country already losing more than 7,500 people to the pandemic.

Worst still, Cuba is reporting more than 50 fatalities each week on average. So far, nearly 50% of its adult population is fully vaccinated.

If you are visiting Cuba, you need to carry travel insurance that covers Covid-19 during your stay on the island.

Cayman Islands

Until a couple of months ago, many analysts assumed that the Cayman Islands had reached a basic level of herd immunity. But they were wrong. The pandemic is currently at its peak on the island, with an average of 13 people being infected with the disease each day.

When it comes to vaccination rates, the Cayman Islands is far ahead of many of its Caribbean neighbors. More than 84% of its population is fully vaccinated.

Barbados

Barbados has vaccinated nearly 42% of its population, but there has been a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases recently. Some hospitals in the country are “stretched to the limit”, according to the country’s Finance Ministry.

It is reporting around 200 new infections each day. The Caribbean country has reported 9,200 infections, with 81 fatalities. It tests every foreign visitor at its airports, besides requiring travelers to provide documents certifying their vaccination.

Dominican Republic

Coronavirus has continued to wreak havoc in the Dominican Republic, with the island registering nearly 600 new cases on average each day.

So far, more than 4,000 have died from the virus. Reports say hospitals are still stretched to the limit in some parts of the country. It has vaccinated around 55% of its population.

Bahamas

The picturesque island has recorded more than 21,000 Covid-19 cases and 555 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.

Despite registering at least 70 new cases on average each day, the Bahamas has reopened its borders and is welcoming foreign tourists. Around 26% of its adult residents are fully vaccinated.

Effective October 1, 2021, all non-vaccinated travelers wishing to travel to the country will be required to obtain a negative Covid-19 PCR test, taken no more than five days prior to the date of travel, according to a statement from the government.

Jamaica

With nearly 13% of its population fully vaccinated, Jamaica looks a long way from reaching herd immunity. The island has lost more than 1,960 people to the virus so far, with the number of infections totaling above 85,000 according to the latest figures.

There is disagreement as to why the island is so far behind in vaccination efforts. At the end of August, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa F. Etienne, launched a collaborative platform to push ahead with vaccination shortages across the Caribbean, with Jamaica marked as one nation suffering from a lack of access vaccines.

More recently, national newspaper the The Jamaica Gleaner, suggested that hesitancy towards getting the vaccination was, in fact, a major reason behind the very low double-jab rates. Another reason appeared citizen’s confusion between the time of their first and second dose.

Speaking to the The Gleaner, Private Sector Organization of Jamaica president Keith Duncan said: “We are hopeful that, as the supply chain is unlocked, as indicated by United States President Joe Biden and the G7 countries, our Jamaican people will overcome their vaccine hesitancy and take the vaccines as we strive to protect ourselves, families, way of life, livelihoods and economy.”

According to an article in published today in Global Voices, Jamaica has recently “dumped about 55,000 doses” of the Astra Zeneca vaccine after they went unused and ultimately expired.

Dr. Chris Tufton, Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, tweeted that the problem wasn’t logistics but with the population. “Not a issue of sites. The issue is us!” he wrote.

Jamaica has opened its borders, but every visitor has to provide proof that they are vaccinated against the virus.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad has reported more than 51,000 infections since the pandemic began. There has been a sudden increase in new infections in recent months, largely due to the Delta variant.

The island nation has administered at least 1.1 million doses of vaccines so far. That means, barely 39% of its people are fully vaccinated.

Trinidad reopened its borders in July this year, but most of the restrictions are still in place. Fully vaccinated foreigners can visit the country, but they should have a PCR test before boarding a flight.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is among the worst victims of Delta variant in the Caribbean. The country recorded more than 11,000 cases in the past four months alone, with around 200 deaths.

The country is also lagging behind when it comes to vaccination. It vaccinated barely 22% of its population as of 30 September.

Earlier in September, the country’s Tourism Ministry claimed that 75% of its population was fully vaccinated. Although it has eased restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers, US authorities are still advising their citizens to avoid visiting the country.

Foreign visitors need to upload proof of vaccination before boarding a flight. Once a fully vaccinated tourist arrives in the country, they are free to use all the services on the offer.

Grenada

Another victim of the spreading Delta variant, Grenada has seen a rapid rise in cases of the virus since September, 1. The country has lost 165 citizens to the disease so far, with the number of infections exceeding 5,500.

That’s largely due to its low vaccination rates: only 26% of its people are fully vaccinated. Until September this year, Grenada supplied thousands of doses of vaccines to neighboring countries. As the Delta variant began to wreak havoc, it accelerated the pace of vaccination at home.

Despite the high number of cases, Grenada has now launched a remote-working program for foreign employees and their families.

Travelers need to spend 48 hours in isolation if you arrive in Grenada as a tourist, pending a negative PCR test. That means you must book accommodations for a minimum of 2 nights before boarding the flight.

Guyana

Covid-19 infections are somewhat decreasing in Guyana, with around 190 new infections reported on average each day. Guyana has recorded nearly 32,000 Covid cases and 800 deaths so far.

Today 34% of its population is fully vaccinated, with the country importing a huge number of vaccine doses from the US and Europe.

Dominica

Dominica has vaccinated more than 32% of its population. However, new Covid-19 cases have continued to mount, thanks largely due to the Delta variant. The country has reported 3,699 infections and 22 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Foreign visitors need to submit a negative PCR test result one day prior to arrival in the country.

Belize

The tourism-dependent country has taken a hit from the disease. It has reported 21,000 infections and 425 fatalities since the pandemic began.

What is worrying however is that infections are increasing in recent weeks. “An average number of new infections reported each day in Belize rises by more than 77 over the last 3 weeks, 20% of its previous peak,” reports Reuters.

Although more than 40% of its population is fully vaccinated, Belize does not seem to be out of the woods yet.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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