COVID-19 IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food, systems, and the world of work.

By Promise Published on February 01, 2021
COVID-19 IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean, and to a large extent central American countries, have been one of the most exemplary regions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic from the onset (in absolute number and as a share of country’s total population). Their economies have been hard hit by the pandemic notably, in terms of employment, consumption, and poverty.

According to Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), “While COVID-19 cases are low in the Caribbean, even in relative terms to its small population, the curve has not begun to flatten in the region. Although public health experts say social distancing and quarantines are critical, the economic uncertainty that comes with those measures provides a powerful counterweight – particularly in a part of the world where reliance on face-to-face transactions is high. The second challenge derives from the nature of the region’s linkages with the rest of the world.”

Given their small size and geographic isolation Caribbean countries are highly reliant on trade and tourism as important sources of income and employment. Lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has left islands’ borders closed, airports without flight, hotels shuttered, cruise ships docked in ports resulting in economic crisis.

The PAHO/WHO said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought distress and suffering to every community and island in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados as seen all over the world. “It has been a very brutal year for all of us”, they said.

The pandemic has disrupted the way of living and human relations which led many persons into extreme poverty as it has decimated jobs and livelihoods. The lockdown, restriction of movement, closure of borders and suspensions of international travel and importation of goods, has resulted in long term economic impact as well as impact on mental and physical health of the population at large. It has created a sense of desperation for many.

According to the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group, “The ripple effects of the crisis are being felt throughout different industries in the private sector. Small and medium-sized enterprises (smes), which generate as much as half of all jobs in the region, are struggling throughout sectors such as manufacturing, tourism and retail and many are unable to operate under the current lockdowns and quarantines. The crisis has also dislocated supply chains, curtailed foreign direct investment, disrupted trade flows and jeopardized the business operations of firms throughout the region.”

Many of the small businesses within the Caribbean depend heavily on the tourism sector as a means of income and the closure of borders and suspension of flights are beginning to have devastating impacts. Some small businesses have had to close their doors, and many hospitality workers have lost their jobs. Taxi drivers are crying out for assistance. Some countries like Anguilla have reopened their borders and although the tourist season is not as booming as it usually would be, due to skepticism towards travelling, they have been getting regular visitors. Others are not as successful because of the travel stipulations and the mandated quarantine period.

Government entities throughout the Caribbean will need to start investing in alternative options outside of tourism to sustain the economy as we plunge head on into this economic downturn. There is no telling exactly how long the effects of this pandemic will last.

Promise

Promise

Senior Staff Reporter

1 Comment

  • Kido
    Kido Feb 02, 2021 at 09:45 AM Reply
    COVID-19 has become very difficult even for those big countries with huge economy. I hope 🤞 this year will bring good news for us infact it has good news because the vaccine is already found. I like it writer keep it up.

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