By Elesha George
A group of Antiguan and Kittian students studying in Cuba are likely to be repatriated next week. The medical students will return on a charter flight organised by the Antigua and Barbuda government.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs explained that several students in Cuba are scheduled to return on a charter one day next week, probably on June 23, 2020,” minutes from Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting read.
The decision comes less than a week after the students started sourcing their own funds to return home amid the Covid-19 pandemic – and after months of asking for government’s assistance.
The students, who tell Observer they have not yet received any formal word from the government here, are expected to be flown out of Havana to Antigua but the logistics of that flight, Trade Minister EP Chet Greene says, are still being worked out.
Information Minister and Cabinet spokesperson, Melford Nicholas, told the press on Thursday “there are a number of students who are living in various provinces in Cuba, so they will be returning. I believe the number – it’s probably less than 50”.
The minister says most of the students in Cuba are still in classes and are not scheduled to return before the end of July but the charter will facilitate those whose third semester ended prematurely as a result of the pandemic.
There are also a handful of nationals and residents from the Dominican Republic who return to Antigua today.
“They are citizens who would have travelled abroad to the Dominican Republic and would have been caught when the airports were closed in the respective countries,” he explained.
Persons travelling from the Dominican Republic are likely to be placed in a government quarantine facility for the full 14 days, as Nicholas said the Spanish nation is “deemed to be one of the hotspots” for Covid-19.