THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICA ADMINISTERS THE MOST COVID VACCINE DOSES IN ENGLISH-SPEAKING CARIBBEAN
With the help of its five-day mass immunization program, Jamaica has vaccinated the highest number of people with COVID vaccine in the English-speaking Caribbean. As of April 13, 2021, the country’s Health Ministry reported that 135,473 individuals had received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This is seven percent of the island’s targeted population of 1.9 million required for Jamaica to get to herd immunity by March of 2022. To be considered fully vaccinated, each person must receive two doses of the vaccine. According to the Health Ministry, 87,755 Jamaican were vaccinated in the fifth week of the program, surpassing its initial goal of 59,530.
JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER PLANS FOR STIMULUS PACKAGES FOR DANCEHALL ARTISTS, OTHER ENTERTAINMENT STAKEHOLDERS
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced the government’s plans to give stimulus money to members of the entertainment industry, including dancehall artists, to help them address issues arising from the long lockdown of the industry due to COVID-19. The lockdown was implemented over a year ago in an attempt to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus and has had a devastating effect on many artists and members of the entertainment sector. Holness said the lockdown will continue until May 4, 2021, and expressed his understanding that many Jamaicans have lost significant resources to date. Therefore, the government will make an allocation to help them in recognition of the importance of music to Jamaican culture and its economic recovery.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
UNITED NATIONS SAYS VOLCANO ERUPTION ON ST. VINCENT COULD IMPACT OTHER CARIBBEAN ISLANDS
According to Didier Trebucq, United Nations coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the humanitarian and economy disaster arising from the eruption of St. Vincent’s La Soufriere volcano could last for months and extend to neighboring islands. Trebucq said that the crisis requires a humanitarian response and also rehabilitation efforts. The volcano continues to be active and has sent up clouds of ash and smoke every day since its first eruption on April 9, 2021, when some 20,000 island inhabitants had to evacuate from their homes. The eruption could impact Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and Guadaloupe, among other island and is worrying as the Caribbean hurricane season will begin in two months. These happenings, in addition to COVID-19, are having a negative impact on the region’s tourism, its main source of income.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICA READY TO SUPPORT ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES AS VOLCANO ERUPTS
Jamaican plans to provide monetary support for St. Vincent and The Grenadines, which has suffered from the first eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano since 1979. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) along with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management are prepared to aid the neighboring Caribbean island. The government has established a bank account to accept personal donations from individual Jamaicans as it considers its own monetary relief donation, as well as supplies to St. Vincent.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
MONTEGO BAY PHARMACEUTICAL FIRM TO ESTABLISH COVAXIN DISTRIBUTION HUB
The pharmaceutical company Bioprist, which is based in Montego Bay, plans to establish a distribution hub in Jamaica for COVAXIN, the COVID-19 vaccine made in India. Bioprist has made a deal with Bharat Biotech, the Indian manufacturer of COVAXIN, to exclusively import and distribute the vaccine in Jamaica. Bioprist has gathered market intelligence to support the creation of such a hub in Montego Bay. Other pharmaceutical firms in the region have expressed an interest in partnering with Bioprist in its distribution efforts. This new development is likely to have an impact on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the Caribbean and Latin America.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
BUJU BANTON FOUNDATION AND MUSIC STREAMING PLATFORM PRESENTS GIFT TO BOYS’ HOME
The Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester is the recipient of a gift from the Buju Banton Foundation and Audiomack, a music streaming platform in the form of new musical instruments. Reggae and dancehall artist Buju Banton himself appeared in person to present the donation. At the presentation, the Grammy Award winner said it was a blessing to be able to empower disenfranchised boys. He thanked Audiomack for its partnership in providing the musical instruments to the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home and noted that many boys at the facility have dreams of becoming musicians. The Buju Banton Foundation’s mission is to provide the resources and skills necessary to help them realize their dreams. The donated instruments included a five-piece drum set, keyboards and stands, a saxophone, and guitars.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
CHAMPS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 2021 AFTER COVID-19 POSTPONEMENT IN 2020
The Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships, better known as Champs, have been scheduled for May 11-15, 2021. After the postponement of the tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and months of efforts to gain final approval for their staging, Champs have received the go-ahead, according to reliable sources. Government agencies had been concerned about adherence to COVID-19 protocols at Champs, Jamaica’s largest sporting event. As a result of the pending final approval of the event, three regional championships – Eastern, Central, and Western Champs – will be held between April 26-30, 2021. The qualification system established for 2021 only will automatically qualify the top two finishers in the four regional championships, including an earlier meet held in the Corporate Area, for the May event. These athletes will be joined by others based on their times, and the top 12 in Jamaica – two per school – will qualify from jumps and field and throwing events.