THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
TWO-WEEK TRAVEL BAN IMPOSED ON VISITORS FROM UK
Health officials in Jamaica imposed a two-week travel ban on individuals traveling to Jamaica from the United Kingdom in response to reports that a new strain of COVID-19 was found there. Twenty of 301 passengers on the last flight from the UK tested positive for the virus, and questions have arisen about why the government allowed them into the country without a negative test result. According to Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, the UK was not on the list of nations requiring a negative test result for travel; however, visitors are supposed to inform officials if they had recently had a positive COVID-19 result. The application form to enter Jamaica asks them to state their test results, but Bisasor-McKenzie said some individuals may not have been honest. She said most passengers had been cooperative about the quarantine order. Questions have also arisen about whether the new strain of COVID-19 has been found in Jamaica. Dr. Mindi Fitz Henley, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, reported that ““We currently do not have the technology” to test for the new strain, and if that test is needed, samples must be sent overseas to be tested.
JOHNSON SMITH ANNOUNCES NEW DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENTS
Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, announced new diplomatic appointments for Mexico, India, and Belgium. These include Ambassador-designate Sharon Saunders who will serve in Mexico, High Commissioner-designate Jason Hall who will serve in India, and Ambassador-designate Symone Betton-Nayo who will serve in Belgium. Johnson Smith said Saunders has expertise in bilateral and multilateral affairs and considerable engagement with the Jamaican Diaspora. Hall’s appointment was called historic as he will be the first Jamaican resident High Commissioner to India. Betton-Nayo has experience in foreign trade and bilateral and multilateral affairs and is also a strong advocate for making cooperation between Jamaica and the European Union stronger. Saunders and Hall will start in their new roles in January of 2021. Betton-Nayo will assumer her new duties on February 1, 2021.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
VOLCANOES IN CARIBBEAN SHOW INCREASED ACTIVITY, SPUR WARNINGS
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency issued warnings in response to a strong eruption of gas and steam from the Caribbean’s most active volcano, Soufriere Hills in Montserrat. There has also been recent activity in St. Vincent and Martinique, and officials have issued alerts for these areas as well as reports of tremors, strong gas emissions, the formation of a new volcanic dome, and changes to the crater’s lake were made. The area under warnings is home to over 100,000 people. Those living near the volcano were told to prepare to evacuate if necessary. The volcano last erupted in 1979, and an eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people. Mt. Pelee is also active again, and an alert was issued in December 2020, the fist of its kind since the volcano’s last eruption in 1932.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN SOLDIER FIRST BLACK TO HEAD QUEEN’S GUARDS IN UK
Kirtland Gill, 40, who traveled from Jamaica to visit his family in England, joined the British Army 20 years ago. Now he will become the first black soldier to lead the elite Queen’s Coldstream Guards. As a Regimental Sergeant Major, Gill will be the leader of the guards whose duty is to protect Queen Elizabeth II. The regiment, which comprises 500 members, has a role in state visits at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and in the orchestration of parades. Gill was raised in Hampton Court, St. Thomas, the son of a fisherman and a dressmaker. After he joined the army, he continually moved up in the ranks, serving in Iraq in 2005 and as a section commander in Afghanistan in 2007. He is currently a Warrant Officer Class 2. He said he was honored to have the change to be the next Regimental Sergeant Major, as he had come from a poor family that was unable to send him to the best schools. Gill lives in Windsor with his wife and his four-year-old daughter.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
AMERICANS CONSIDERING INVESTING BIG IN CAYMANAS
According to Donald Tapia, the outgoing United States Ambassador to Jamaica, American investors are planning to make a US$1 billion investment in Caymanas, St. Catherine. He said that two “American billionaires” – once from Texas and one from Arizona – are looking to make a “deep dive” into the area of Caymanas and exploring the kind of investment they want to pursue. They have already met with officials of Jamaica’s government to discuss their plans and are looking at the property, which the government has been open about making available for new investment from the US. There are hundreds of acres open for industrial development in Caymanas, Tapia said.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
BIG VIRTUAL INAUGURATION PARTY SET TO HONOR VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS
The band Fab 5 and the 1990s deejay Flourgon are among the Jamaican performers selected from the Caribbean to participate in a virtual inauguration party in honor of Kamala Harris, the United States Vice-President-Election. The party is being organized by the Caribbean American Action Network (CAAN), a group of Caribbean American and Caribbean organizations. It will be held on January 17, 2021, to celebrate the election of Harris, whose father is Jamaican, and will staged with the theme “Celebrating Caribbean American Kamala.” Other acts scheduled to perform are soca king Edwin Yearwood of Barbados, American gospel singer Joan Meyers, Guyanese Menes De Griot and Shanto, Vincentian Frankie McIntosh, Toni Norville, Kirk Brown, Janine Jkuhl, Owen Dalhouse, Maxie Gouevia, and Rashid Thorpe. Co-hosting the event will be the first black woman to star in a James Bond film, Trina Parks, whose mother is from Barbados and whose grandparents are from Antigua. The event will be live-streamed by One Caribbean Television on its Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter platforms.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
FOUR FEMALE JAMAICAN REFEREES SHORTLISTED FOR 2023 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Four Jamaicans women – referee Odette Hamilton and referee assistants Princess Brown, Stephanie Dale Yee Sing, and Jassett Kerr – have been shortlisted to officiate at the next FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is scheduled for Australia and New Zealand in 2023. If they are chosen, Brown and Yee Sing will be officiating at the event for the second time. They were both at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019. The 2023 appearance would be a first for Kerr and Hamilton. If selected, Hamilton will be the first local female referee to officiate at a senior international tournament. According to Victor Stewart, manager of the referee’s department at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), he is “extremely pleased” with the progress local female officials have made in the global arena. He noted that they have done very well and are “right up there with the best.”