Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 15 July, 2020. CARPHA received medical supplies from the People’s Republic of China to help in the fight against COVID-19. As the follow-up to the special vice-ministerial meeting on COVID-19 via video link on May 12, 2020 attended by China and nine Caribbean countries, China provides medical supplies respectively to participating countries as well as the CARICOM Secretariat, to be specific, to CARPHA.
The donations, made by H.E. Song Yumin, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, were received for safekeeping and distribution by the CARPHA Executive Management at a ceremony which took place at the Agency’s headquarters located in Port of Spain.
“COVID-19 still remains an unwelcome visitor to the whole world,” stated Dr Joy St John CARPHA Executive Director in her opening remarks as she thanked Ambassador Song Yumin for extending an invitation to CARPHA to participate in the handover ceremony, and for CARPHA to be the custodian of the much needed supplies for distribution.
“CARICOM countries have largely avoided some of the worse effects of this unwanted guest, with some of our countries not having a positive case for two months,” Dr St John said, adding “the supplies will go a long way in maintaining the hard earned status of a safe bubble for residents and tourists alike. Therefore, I am elated to accept these medical supplies – 15,000 swab test kits and 30,000 medical face masks on behalf of the Member States.
CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater expressed gratitude to the People’s Republic of China on their cooperative reach out to the Region and thanked them for their generosity. Dr Slater, who was speaking on behalf of the CARICOM Secretary General said “This comes at a time when the world recognises the importance of international solidarity and especially so with vulnerable states such as our Small Islands Developing States, and we are pleased that the People’s Republic of China work with us. He added that “the supplies will continue to help us in the Region to continue our success thus far in managing the onslaught of COVID-19. This is very important to us as all are aware that our tourism and travel industry is the lifeblood of several if not all our Member States, and in our efforts to return to normal, the donation of supplies will certainly assist us.
His Excellency Song Yumin expressed his hope that the supplies will improve the ongoing needs of CARPHA by further enhancing its ability to prevent and control the pandemic within the Region. H.E. Song Yumin commended CARPHA for its regional response to COVID stating “CARPHA, as the leading health institution in the Region, has worked actively and effectively with CARICOM, Member States and key partners on public health issues. We are confident that with joint efforts of all parties concerned, the Caribbean region will defeat the disease and return to the normal life at an early date.”
Dr Roshan Parasram, Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago attended the handover ceremony. Also in attendance were Mr. Zhang Lei, Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Lu Difan, Chief of Administration Section from the Chinses Embassy, and the staff of the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
Following the ceremony, the Chinese delegation along with Dr Roshan Parasram were given a guided tour of the CARPHA Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory.