By Theresa Goodwin
Prime Minister Gaston Browne is insisting that the fight to control the spread of the dreaded coronavirus is one for the entire region and not a single country.
Browne made the statement during an interview with Observer, in relation to a spike of Covid-19 infections in Barbados, and mixed reactions from the public after he dispatched a letter of solidarity to his Barbadian counterpart, Mia Mottley.
By all accounts, the spike is directly linked to a ‘bus crawl’ party on Boxing Day, which increased Barbados’ Covid-19 cases from 356 (48 active) to over 500 cases on January 2, 2021, while small clusters are still under investigation.
In his letter to Prime Minister Mottley, on Sunday, Browne also informed her that Antigua and Barbuda will not be restricting travel to and from Barbados.
However, the missive stirred up mixed reactions from social media users in Antigua, with some recalling that Barbados had listed the twin island nation as a high-risk country for Covid-19 even though the positive cases remained low.
Social media users in Barbados, who commented on the story that was published on the Barbados Today website, also criticised the Antiguan leader for what they termed sarcastic comments.
Some also suggested that Browne was gloating and that his remarks were not genuine.
Browne said that while both countries would have had differences in the past, the situation in Barbados could likely occur in any other territory in the region.
“For us to gloat over the misfortunes of Barbados is totally inappropriate. I don’t see why anyone would want to read into my letter to think that it was disingenuous in any way. We are expressing sincere concerns and we stand in solidarity with the Prime Minister and the people of Barbados,” he said.
“The fight against the coronavirus requires continued joint efforts by Caricom countries, no one can do it alone. We have been sharing experiences with other territories including Barbados and if they require advice we are in a position to give it to them.”
He also suggested that Barbadian authorities could consider introducing the mandatory wearing of face masks and limit the number of persons allowed at an event and reducing the hours.
Barbados has since imposed a 9pm to 5am curfew from January 2, 2021, and has drastically reduced the number of attendees at funerals and weddings.