Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has suggested that the former temporary prison at Harrison’s Point in St Lucy may be the island’s best bet in terms of an isolation centre to treat victims of Ebola and other infectious diseases.
She made the suggestion during a BLP branch meeting in St Peter last night at which she strongly criticised Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for his silence to date on the matter.
Mottley told party faithful that Stuart needs to follow the examples of world leaders such President Barack Obama of the United States and address the nation on the threat of this dreaded disease.
“The worst thing that can happen in any country is panic . . . One of the things that most leaders understand is that panic emerges when there is both incompetence and a vacuum of information,” she told those gathered in the Alexandra School auditorium.
“We are still waiting for the Prime Minister of Barbados to let us know that he is the driver still in charge, and that his government, not the Ministry of Health – because the nature of Ebola is that it is not a Ministry of Health problem alone – but that his government is undertaking a range of actions on which Barbadians can rely and have a level of confidence that we are minimising our exposure to what is this dreaded disease that has killed thousands of people [around the globe].
“It is unacceptable for the Prime Minister to have remained silent thus far, and we call upon him to speak to his people,” she stressed.
During her address, Mottley also zeroed in on the concerns raised by parents of children attending the Ursuline Convent School, who are totally opposed to the establishment of a treatment unit for Ebola and other infectious diseases at Enmore, which is next door to the school.
In supporting the parents on the issue, Mottley said she fully understood their current state of unease.
“If you have a disease that drives fear in the hearts of human beings across the world, are you going to take the one physical measure that you make and put it next to a school of the most of the most vulnerable, namely your children?” she asked.
Dismissing cost as the reason for locating the centre at Enmore, she warned that the psychological impact on parents should have been considered.
“You must know that the one thing to motivate a man or a woman is the protection of their children,” she said, while likening the urgency presented by the threat of Ebola to the 2005 fire at Glendairy Prisons when she was attorney general and minister of home affairs.
“We had in less than 24 hours to make a decision where to put, not four beds, but 1,200 people, that could affect equally the lives and security of Barbadian households. We made a decision to carry them where they would least affect any community.
“We took them to Harrison’s Point [in St Lucy], because the perimeter of Harrison’s Point, once you drive in, is the sea, and the size of the property is such that you have a good distance from the buildings to the fencing.”
While ruling out her party offering advice to Government because such counsel had not been accepted in the past, Mottley said, “I’m speaking to the parents at the Ursuline Convent who have a vested interest in speaking to the Government, and who need to represent to the Government that there can be no logical explanation that can calm our nerves because even medical workers in the removal of their suits have proven that they are most vulnerable to this disease.
“And that whether it is Harrison’s Point or some other location, you need to carry an isolation centre where it will least impact on Barbadian communities and particularly Barbadian children,” she said.
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