"It is a human crisis. It is not just a health pandemic. It is a jobs pandemic. A humanitarian pandemic. A development pandemic."
UN Secretary-General's Address to the IMF'/World Bank High-Level Meeting (17 April 2020)
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19 disease), which was declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, is an unprecedented worldwide crisis affecting all countries in different ways, but the challenges for Small Island Development States (SIDS) are much more acute given the limited health infrastructure and significant exposure of the economies to exogenous economic shocks.
In the case of Caribbean SIDS, COVID-19 threatens to erode the development gains of the last decade and undermines the region’s capacity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The outbreak is currently not only putting pressures on the small and limited health systems, but is expected to have medium to longer term effects on social and economic sectors with negative consequences for economic growth, job creation, citizen security and the state’s capacity to provide health and social services especially for those in vulnerable circumstances. This includes children, youth, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities and migrants.
Additionally, as the Caribbean enters the 2020 hurricane season with a forecast that the Atlantic will have above normal activity, it is important that countries rapidly put the necessary buffers and mechanisms in place to reduce the multidimensional impact of COVID-19 and minimize the chances of exacerbating the fiscal and social challenges should 2020 hurricanes make landfall.