THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
OPPOSITION PARTY FAVORS EXTENDING TRAVEL BAN DUE TO EMERGENCE OF COVID-19 MUTATION
Dr. Morais Guy, the Opposition spokesperson on Health and Wellness, believes that with the scientific confirmation of a new coronavirus strain first discovered in the United Kingdom expanded travel restrictions should be imposed by the Jamaican government. The country has already implemented travel restriction on the UK due to the new COVID-19 strain. Guy says the expanded travel policies are necessary as the new strain has been identified in the Netherlands, South Africa, Denmark, and Australia, to date. Several European countries have already imposed restrictions on nationals traveling from these areas.
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT RECEIVES 650 KILOMETERS OF FIBER-OPTIC CABLE
Jamaica’s local TV providers and the two major toll road operators in the country have donated 650 kilometers of fiber-optic cable to the government to improve Jamaica’s broadband connectivity. According to Michael Saunderson, operations manager of the Traffic Management Unit at the National Works Agency, the cable will form a portion of the National Fiber Optic Communication Backbone and will allow high-speed data services to be implemented among public government facilities. Work and testing have already been began utilizing the cables: they have been tested from Kingston to Santa Cruz at a bandwidth of 10 gigabits. The National Fiber Optic system represents the part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be used to connect hospitals, schools, ports, airports, and health centers. The network will also support the introduction of public WiFi hotspots in rural areas.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
DEVELOPMENT BANK TO PROVIDE $1 BILLION TO HELP CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICA WITH COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced that it will provide $1 billion to help nations in the Caribbean and Latin America to obtain and distribute the vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The IDB previously committed $1.2 billion to this effort in 2020. According to the president of the IDB Mauricio Claver-Carone, the bank is expanding its support of the Caribbean and Latin America to ensure there is timely access to the safe and effective coronavirus vaccines. The bank’s announcement was prompted by growing concern about the serious increase in number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in these regions.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN FAMILY WINS FREEDOM IN DEPORTATION CASE
After living under the sanctuary of a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for 843 days, the Thompson family left the Tabernacle United Church and celebrated their freedom. The couple had spent the past two years battling the United States government for the right to remain in the US. They will now be allowed to seek permanent residency as immigration authorities have agreed to stay their deportation and supported a re-opening of the Thompson’s case.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
FIRST DIRECT FLIGHT FROM NIGERIA TO JAMAICA COMPLETED
Nigeria and Jamaica are working to launch a regular direct airline route between Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos and Montego Bay in Jamaica. The inaugural direct flight, Air Peace, was designed to mark 50 years of excellent bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Jamaica. Geoffrey Onveamam, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, was on board the inaugural flight, along with a group of government officials and private-sector representatives. The group was met at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay by Robert Montague, Jamaica’s Minister of Transport, and other officials. The event is meant to make relations between the two nations stronger in the areas of tourism, education, and economic activities.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
SHAGGY WANTS JAMAICAN ARTISTS TO JOIN RECORDING ACADEMY
In order to have a say in the voting for Grammy Awards, the Jamaican dancehall star Shaggy is urging other Jamaican musicians to become members of the Recording Academy so that they will have a greater impact on Grammy voting. His action comes following criticism by some dancehall artists about what they perceive as a “snubbing” of the musical genre by the awards program. After the announcement that albums by Buju Banton, Skip Marley, Maxi Priest, and Toots & The Maytals received Grammy nominations for 2021, dancehall deejay Popcaan criticized the Recording Academy for not considering his FIXTAPE project for nomination as one of the year’s Best Reggae Albums. He accused the organization of snubbing dancehall and of being corrupt. However, Shaggy says the Recording Academy is not to blame; it is the artists themselves who must play a bigger role by registering with the organization so they can cast votes.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
CHAMPS SCHEDULE FOR 2021 ESTABLISHED
In 2021, the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, better known as Champs, will be held over a six-day period from Monday, March 22, 2021, to Saturday, March 27, 2021. A set of contingency dates was also released if another spike in the number of COVID-19 cases should occur. In that case, Champs will run from May 4, 2021, to May 8, 2021. The competitive event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jamaica had its first officially recorded case of the virus just weeks prior to its scheduled staging at National Stadium. Authorities recognize that restrictions on social gatherings and other health protocols could still have an impact on Champs participation, and several schools have not yet obtained approval to train athletes from their principals. However, organizational efforts for the event are moving ahead, and organizers will welcome schools that are willing and able to participate if a safe environment is established.