Some people are expressing the opinion that Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s letter to Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is only attracting more attention to the country and a disputed situation.
Browne penned a letter to Johnson on Monday, March 15, asking for compensation, after a Public Health England (PHE) website postedthat “an Antigua variant” of the coronavirus had been discovered in the UK.
Browne says the resulting fallout requires “an appropriate response,” and he is calling for a donation of 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Prime Minister alleges that publication of the information has caused damage to Antigua and Barbuda’s small economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism.
He says this country “has long been a favoured holiday destination for British tourists; but the PHE notice that went viral after it was picked up by international media has caused hotel bookings to be cancelled.”
Locally, Browne’s statement and demand have been greeted with both surprise and embarrassment. One resident tells REAL News that the Prime Minister has “turned us into a nation of beggars,” while another says Browne “has never met a situation he could not exploit.”
One resident comments that bookings to Antigua and Barbuda have dropped for weeks now. Therefore, he asks how an article thatwas published for such a short period could have already caused a widespread cancellation.
He suggests that the prudent thing to do was watch, over the next few weeks, to see how many people cancelled; put together a document; and then present it to the British Government.
“He must think people are gullible. How can you claim damage and don’t have the proof to back up your claim?” the man asks.
“These bigger countries are not like Antigua and Barbuda, where you say something and it is bought wholeheartedly without any backing,” the man continues.
However, Browne asserts “the damage was done from the moment that PHE erroneously published the claim on its website.”
He also says that, since the start of the pandemic, visitors to Antigua and Barbuda from the UK have not contracted the virus during their visits here.