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By Kadeem Joseph

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The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is stressing the importance of leadership in tackling the spread of the virus in Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the region.

Director of PAHO, Dr Carissa Etienne, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has repeatedly taught countries within the region that leadership determines the effectiveness of a country’s response.

“As we look to the year ahead, leaders will face difficult choices as we work to flatten the transmission curve,” she added.

Dr Etienne said that it is for this reason that leaders need to act “transparently” so that the public not only understands the decisions they make, but the scientific evidence that drives their decision-making processes.

The medical professional is also warning against the politicisation of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccinations.

However, Dr Etienne admonished that such actions could lead to more deaths.

“We need leaders to act in the interest of public health, not for political gain, by working together to make the best use of the tools to prevent this virus,” she stated.

“Politicising vaccines and other control measures is not just unhelpful, but it could fuel the virus and cost lives.”

The government and opposition parties in Antigua and Barbuda have faced off on different elements of Covid-19 protocols, including mandating a prolonged state of emergency, and its relevance over the past 10 months.