The People’s Republic of China has stepped in once more to support the Caribbean Region in its fight against COVID-19.
This week, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) received additional laboratory supplies for COVID-19 testing on behalf of Member States from the People’s Republic of China. The donations, made by His Excellency Fang Qiu, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, were received for distribution by the CARPHA Executive Management.
The handover ceremony took place on Thursday 7th October 2021, at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Port of Spain.
“We are pleased to receive these items as the designated receiving agency for the CARICOM Secretariat. We are humbled by your continued trust in CARPHA to be the custodian of these supplies and pieces of equipment for distribution, which will add to our ability to provide support to the Governments and People of the Region in their continued fight against COVID-19,” stated Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA Executive Director in her opening remarks as she thanked Ambassador Fang Qiu.
“Over the past months, we have seen the evolution of this COVID-19 pandemic. The needs of Member States have changed over time as they respond to the fluidity of the necessary response due to the dynamic nature of the virus,” Dr. St. John said, adding “CARICOM countries are currently experiencing surges in infection rates and are employing all methods to avoid overwhelming the health systems. With these surges, the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies also increased. Therefore, with this donation, Member States will have reduced procurement challenges. CARPHA and our Member States will greatly appreciate the medical supplies included in this donation, especially since supply chains are still disrupted and many of the donated supplies are difficult to procure.”
The donation worth approximately seventy-seven thousand US dollars (USD$77,000) includes:
• One Dry-ice machine
• 60,000 pairs of Gloves
• 100,000 Tips
• 250 Plastic autoclavable bags
• 5,000 Cryovials
• 500 Cryo boxes
The donation is a follow-up to the Second Special Vice-Ministerial Meeting on COVID-19 among China and the Caribbean Countries Having Diplomatic Relations with China, which was held in last December. During the meeting, China announced the donation of medical materials worth 5 million Chinese Yuan to nine Caribbean countries and the CARICOM Secretariat.
In July 2020, CARPHA received medical supplies – 15,000 swab test kits and 30,000 medical face masks on behalf of nine Member States, namely Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Barbados, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, the Republic of Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
“Virus respects no borders and makes no distinction between races. Only through solidarity and cooperation can we defeat the pandemic,” said His Excellency Fang Qiu in his opening remarks. “We sincerely hope this latest donation would contribute to the ongoing efforts of the Caribbean countries to fight against the pandemic.”
His Excellency went on to say “China attaches great importance to developing relations with CARICOM and its Member States and supports the CARICOM Secretariat in coordinating regional countries to strengthen cooperation and cope with challenges. In closing, he encouraged Caribbean countries to make full use of the China-LAC Special Loan for Combating COVID-19 with a total credit of 1 billion US Dollars. China remains committed to working with the CARICOM Secretariat in furtherance of our cooperation in combating the pandemic, by providing most needed medical materials and vaccines, and sharing experience in diagnosis and treatment.
On behalf of CARICOM and its Member States, Assistant Secretary General Dr. Douglas Slater expressed his gratitude to the Government and People of the People's Republic of China, saying, “We know we are part of the solidarity that you have expressed globally in the fight against COVID-19. China demonstrated this global solidarity at a very early stage, by developing and sharing the gene sequence of the original SARS COV 2 virus. China has also shared technical inputs which assisted with our development and understanding of the disease.
In closing Dr. Slater said “At times, the challenges of COVID are unknown and in this case the breaking of supplies chain significantly affected some of our member states. So, we are pleased that we are able to receive these resources. They came in very handy and timely because we are currently experiencing a surge of the disease. We look forward to a day when we can all relax, this disease has been conquered, knowing that the expertise that reside in China would have played a significant role.”
Following the handover, Dr. Joy St. John, and His Excellency Fang Qiu signed the handover and acceptance certificate.