Cuba makes strides, Jamaica lagsWednesday, October 20, 2021
While most Jamaicans procrastinate as to whether they should take the COVID-19 vaccine, it is interesting to note that our neighbour, Cuba, has fully vaccinated nearly 50 per cent of its population and 80 per cent have recived at least one dose of the three-dose vaccine ( https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/cuba-aims-fully-inoculate-90-residents-against-covid-19-by-december-2021-10-01/).
What this means is that restrictions are easing in Cuba. Competitively, this will be a game changer in the region for tourism as tourists tend to prefer destinations with the least hassle.
As of November 15 a COVID-19 test will no longer be required for visitors arriving in Cuba if they are fully vaccinated. Screening and random tests will continue but this will mostly affect unvaccinated visitors who might be subject to quarantine. Departing tourists can get polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for their return travel for US$30 — significantly less than the typical cost – at Cuban hotels.
Cuba's COVID-19 case count is on a downward trajectory with an average of 2,700 new cases per day, which is very low relative to their population of 11 million.
In Jamaica, only 10 per cent are fully vaccinated and another 10 per cent await their second shot. The vaccination rate in the Caribbean is said to be approximately 40 per cent in most places. Jamaica's vaccination rate, like Haiti's, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, lags behind most Caribbean states.
In the USA, 57 per cent of the population is now fully vaccinated, in Canada they have reached 72 per cent and, in the UK, 66 per cent. Another five to 10 per cent await their second shots in the USA, Canada, and UK.
Airports around the globe are beginning to see an increase in air traffic, close to pre-pandemic levels. Vaccinated countries will do everything possible to reduce the risks by controlling borders and arriving passengers. Those who plan to avoid the jab might find themselves severely restricted while living with the risk of getting very ill or dying if they become infected.
Although I don't believe a national mandatory vaccination policy will be effective in any country, I fully support the right of an employer to keep their workplace safe by asking employees to be vaccinated or provide weekly COVID-19 tests at their own expense. I also support vaccination requirement for entry to sports and entertainment venues which would allow for the safe reopening of the sectors, particualrly entertainment, which has been hit hard for a year and a half.
In Rome, Italy, one of catostrophic epicentres of the pandemic, it has been reported that most patients currently in hospitals suffering from COVID-19 — over 90 per cent — are unvaccinated. I don't know what other message can be used to convince the unvaccinated in Jamaica, but we must not give up on the public relations effort.