A Barbadian businesswoman has made an impassioned plea for the country to accept the group of 90 Nigerian students who want to study at the Barbados Community College (BCC), insisting they are Ebola-free.
Donna St Hill said that not only have they already been tested, but they will undergo further checks before arriving in Barbados and will probably be the most medically certified individuals to come into the island.
“Of all the people that will land in this country, they are the ones that will have a medical certificate that they have no diseases. No other visitors will land with that,” said St Hill who is in a venture to bring the Nigerians to Barbados for hospitality training as part of an economic diversification programme with the Nigerian Delta State where the prospective BCC students live.
“Some two or three days before they travel, they will do the specific EVD [Ebola virus disease] check on our healthy students who have been nowhere near an outbreak,” she added, noting that the EVD test was an added precaution to satisfy the people of Barbados.
“We are going to go one step further . . . so that will prove definitively. So we don’t want them to come and have to experience any stigma. We don’t want people to be afraid they can’t deal with them.”
St Hill was speaking during the question segment of a presentation on Ebola, hosted by the Barbados Drug Service at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last night.
The Nigerians were due to arrive last month to begin their one-year studies in hospitality management. However, Government postponed their arrival until next January so that an isolation unit could first be set up for anyone testing positive for the disease that is rapidly spreading through West Africa.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones insisted last weekend that while there is no “closed-door policy”, precautions need to be taken to prevent the potentially deadly virus from reaching this country’s shores.
Appealing to Barbadians not to assume that all Africans were suspected Ebola victims, St Hill said: “It is very unfortunate that the Nigerian students, who are part of a programme my company is doing with one state in Nigeria, have sort of become synonymous with Ebola.”
She contended that the Delta State has some of the best medical care and facilities in Nigeria and “if you are going to have any Nigerians, these are the ones you want”.
“There are 200 million Nigerians and everybody is not ill,” St Hill insisted.
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