One of Barbados’ financing development partners has welcomed measures being implemented to mitigate against possible fallout from the dreaded 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Expressing hope that the virus, which has killed more than 1000 people so far, would die down as the end of the winter season approaches, President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith warned against any form of complacency.
In fact, he pointed out that the virus could impact negatively on the region’s tourism and trade.
“We are very open economies, we are small countries and international trade is a big component of our GDP [gross domestic product]. So that any issues that arise of a negative nature can impact us depending on the type of exposure we have with that sector,” said Smith.
“Tourism is a big money earner for many Caribbean countries and increasingly China is becoming a market for export of goods and services from some Caribbean countries. So to the extent that that Coronavirus issue is protracted I think we could pretty much expect that there might be negative fallout,” warned Smith
“In fact, what is being feared is that it can be spread across the world to some of the source markets for our tourism arrivals and similarly our ability to export into countries in the far East could be compromised by this type of development,” he added.
There are more than 43,100 confirmed cases of the virus, which has spread to more than two dozen countries and territories.
“The good news as I was hearing this morning is that the expectation is that the persistence of this virus could be limited as we move out of the winter season and go into the warmer climate. It is my hope that we will be able to realize that benefit,” Smith told journalists during the CDB’s annual news conference on Tuesday.
“However, we also need to take measures in our own countries to protect ourselves. And I am pleased to see that moves are afoot by a number of Caribbean counties to try and address and mitigate the risk associated with that development,” he said.
Local authorities have announced beefed up vetting at the island’s ports of entries and have already identified a possible location for isolating any suspected case of the virus.
Tourism officials noted satisfaction with Government’s action regarding the virus and said they were also keeping a close eye on developments.