Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday, officially wrote to Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, seeking justification on what he described as the “wrongful” classification of Antigua and Barbuda as a ‘medium risk’ jurisdiction for Covid-19.
It is a downgrade from last week’s status which placed Antigua and Barbuda in the high risk category even while the country had only nine confirmed active Covid cases.
Barbados’ classification also violates an agreement between CARICOM countries, which in this instance, places countries with less than 20 active cases per 100,000 population in a low risk category.
Two days ago, it downgraded the high risk status to medium risk after intervention by the Foreign Affairs Minister, E.P Chet Greene.
However, Prime Minister Browne said that both classifications are “unwarranted” and “undeserved”.
In his letter he explained, “Our two countries have suffered when other countries and regions have unilaterally applied classifications to them. Most recently, the arbitrary classification of Barbados by the European Union as a “high-risk” country regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, was rightly protested by you and your government. My government and I, personally, raised our voices in support of Barbados to decry this arbitrary action.
You will understand, therefore, my government’s deep concern about Barbados’ classification of Antigua and Barbuda as ‘high risk’ or ‘medium risk’, when the facts tell a quite different story. You will further appreciate our disquiet when Barbados departs from the position taken by CARICOM Heads of Government to apply the CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) standard of 20 active cases for a population of 100,000. In Antigua and Barbuda’s case, we have only 4 infected persons, well below the threshold set by CARPHA.”
Browne told Mottley that the unilateral classification of Antigua and Barbuda by Barbados has received international attention and has led to anxiety in the country’s already struggling tourism industry, and has adversely affected the employment and wellbeing of its people.
He has called on the prime minister to personally intervene to ensure that the regional standard, established by CARPHA, and agreed to by heads of government, is applied by the Barbados authorities to Antigua and Barbuda, placing the country in the ‘low risk’ category it deserves.