Countries of the Eastern Caribbean whose economies are categorized as 'open service-based economies' and 'tourist-dependent small economies' are at a critical phase in which expanding COVID-19 testing and implementing measures including contact tracing and quarantine are key to the successful reopening of borders.
As part of the OECS Commission’s response to fighting the novel COVID-19 disease and ongoing efforts to support the OECS Member States, the Eastern Caribbean States Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the European Union engaged in discussions with certified European manufacturers of COVID-19 rapid antibody and antigen tests.
COVID-19 rapid antibody and antigen tests have been used by an increased number of countries worldwide to pursue four main objectives including:
- identifying infected persons and safeguarding other citizens and visitors who receive appropriate and timely medical pre-checks;
- detecting signs of prior or new viral infections;
- evaluating the extent of infection of a population; and
- identifying persons who may have much-valued COVID-19 immunity.
Chargé d'Affaires of the Eastern Caribbean States Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the European Union in Brussels Desmond Simon stated:
"Repeated and widespread antibody testing for the COVID-19 virus are proven methods of fighting this global health pandemic that has eviscerated global economic growth, resulting in historic levels of unemployment and reversals of hard-won socio-economic gains. The use of rapid COVID-19 test kits will provide OECS Member States with a critical first line of defense, which complements existing WHO established health protocols and best practices. While the need for repeated testing may cause some measure of inconvenience and will warrant additional expenditure, the costs of inaction will undoubtedly be more expensive. Credible studies have shown that countries who have implemented successful widespread and repeated testing, remain better placed to keep their borders open and protected. Going forward, visitors and citizens can be reassured that the competent authorities in the respective member countries will continue to enforce measures advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to contain the novel coronavirus disease."
On June 23, 2020, the staff of the Eastern Caribbean States Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the European Union benefited from COVID -19 test administered by a major European manufacturer, as part of the Commission’s efforts to secure reliable supplies and ensure the welfare of its staff in a region that has recorded high rates of COVID-19 infections.
Chargé d'Affaires of the Eastern Caribbean States Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the European Union Desmond Simon reaffirmed the intention to continue to engage global certified manufactures of medical equipment to ensure that OECS Member States remain well-positioned to secure critical, reliable, and affordable COVID-19 equipment in a highly contested global marketplace.
Meanwhile, the OECS Commission continues to work closely with its Member States to ensure the safe and smooth reopening of their borders, which is vital for the resumption of economic activity.