COVID-19 containment in the Caribbean: The experience of Small Island developing states

M.M. Murphy, S.M. Jeyaseelan, C. Howitt, N. Greaves, H. Harewood, K.R. Quimby, N. Sobers, R.C. Landis, K.D. Rocke, I.R. Hambleton
2020 Research in Globalization  
Small island developing states (SIDS) have limited absolute resources for responding to national disasters, including health emergencies. Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Caribbean on 1st March 2020, nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have been widely used to control the resulting COVID-19 outbreak. We document the variety of government measures introduced across the Caribbean and explore their impact on aspects of outbreak control. Methods: Drawing on publically available
more » ... nformation, we present confirmed cases and confirmed deaths to describe the extent of the Caribbean outbreak. We document the range of outbreak containment measures implemented by national Governments, focussing on measures to control movement and gatherings. We explore the temporal association of containment measures with the start of the outbreak in each country, and with aggregated information on human movement, using smartphone positioning data. We include a set of comparator countries to provide an international context. Results: As of 25th May, the Caribbean reported 18,755 confirmed cases and 631 deaths. There have been broad similarities but also variation in the number, the type, the intensity, and particularly the timing of the NPIs introduced across the Caribbean. On average, Caribbean governments began controlling movement into countries 27 days before their first confirmed case and 23 days before comparator countries. Controls on movement within country were introduced 9 days after the first case and 36 days before comparators. Controls on gatherings were implemented 1 day before the first confirmed case and 30 days before comparators. Confirmed case growth rates and numbers of deaths have remained low across much the Caribbean. Stringent Caribbean curfews and stay-at-home orders coincided with large reductions in community mobility, regularly above 60%, and higher than most international comparator countries. Conclusion: Stringent controls to limit movement, and specifically the early timing of those controls has had an important impact on containing the spread of COVID-19 across much of the Caribbean. Very early controls to limit movement into countries may well be particularly effective for small island developing states. With much of the region economically reliant on international tourism, and with steps to open borders now being implemented, it is critical that the region draws on a solid evidence-base to balance the competing demands of economic wellbeing and public health.
doi:10.1016/j.resglo.2020.100019 fatcat:5c3ku4h7obcs3j4qufczwzmgma