Subscribe

COVID-19

COVID in the Caribbean

CIJN writers fanned out across the region–Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, British Virgin Islands,– to show how people in Caribbean nations were battling the coronavirus, fighting for their lives and economic survival.

No borders can repel COVID-19. When 52-year-old Ratna Baboolall left her home in Queens, N.Y. for a trip to her native Guyana, she unknowingly carried the virus to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where she was in transit to her village 15 minutes from Georgetown, the Guyanese capital. Before she died of the virus, she had sickened at least eight relatives, including her 59-year-old husband Ramnauth Baboolall, her two sons, two sisters, one niece, her son-in-law and one of her granddaughters. CIJN reporters tell the story of Guyana’s Patient Zero. In separate reports, they detail how, thanks to the virus, the people of Guyana have had to postpone their hopes that newfound oil riches would improve their standard of living and help Guyana shed its status as one of the poorest countries in South America. Many businesses, which had hoped to boom, are now shuttered temporarily or for good.

Caribbean people are known for their resilience and creativity. Those two traits are on display throughout the islands. If your island is heavily dependent on people from around the world getting on planes to vacation in your tropical paradise, what are your options when airplane traffic has ground to a halt. If you’re Bajan Prime Minister Mia Mottley, you develop a plan to invite tele-commuters, or work-at-home employees, to work from Barbados for the next year. Her pitch: why work in the United States, Europe and Latin America when you can work in the tropical breezes in the birthplace of Rihanna.

The people of the British Virgin Islands owe their survival to their own resilience. As they battle encroachment of the coronavirus, they are also preparing for the hurricane season–with the scars of recent deadly hurricanes fresh in their memories. Their big dilemma: how to practice social distancing if you are stuck in a hurricane shelter with hundreds of huddled hurricane victims.

In the BVI, Filipino expatriate workers have had to rely on bayanihan, their national spirit of kindness, work and cooperation to make the best of job losses and their diminishing options.

The Caribbean’s Pandemic Pyramids and Ponzis

Even as Caribbean authorities wrestle with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators have been scrambling to formulate appropriate responses to an accompanying growth in unlawful pyramid and Ponzi schemes marketed as financial solutions to the impact of restrictive pandemic measures.

In Guyana’s Indigenous Villages, Coronavirus Has Become The Silent Killer

Charity On The Pomeroon, Guyana

The lonesome death of Virgil Ferreira occurred on September 29, 2020, not long after the 64-year-old diabetic began experiencing shortness of breath, a persistent cough and loss of taste and smell, all symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. After Ferreira fell ill, he was taken to the health center in Baramita, a village in the dense Guyanese jungle. Within days, Ferreira’s condition worsened. Health authorities transferred him to the nearest regional hospital in Port Kaituma, where he died two weeks later. 

 Ferreira left behind a wife and several school-aged children as well as 9 elder children from previous unions. Virgil Ferreira was a well known champion of indigenous peoples rights , a career he dedicated most of his life to.