Despite concerns expressed by nearby residents and the outrage by parents of students attending the nearby St Ursuline School, Government is moving full steam ahead with its plans for the establishment of an isolation unit at Enmore to treat Ebola and other infectious diseases.
The announcement by Minister of Health John Boyce, who said in a statement last evening said that the unit was close to completion, and would be opened by Saturday, November 1.
The proposed location of the unit, next to the Ursuline Convent School, has been a source of public consternation, especially among parents and guardians of students attending the private school, who have raised concern that the children are being placed at serious risk.
In a statement last weekend, The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners had also expressed concern about the siting of the centre close to the school on Collymore Rock. President Dr Carlos Chase had also suggested the former St Joseph Hospital in St Peter, or a hospital ship as the other alternatives.
Also weighing in on the recent debate was the leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley who had said that the former temporary prison at Harrison Point in St Lucy, would offer a safer and much more secluded location.
However, while the parents have been busy gathering signatures for a petition to be presented to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in their quest to halt the current plan, Boyce said Government had been focused on getting the entire country prepared for any possible outbreak of deadly Ebola.
“The availability of a facility where an Ebola patient can receive care is one of the critical aspects of our preparedness plan. An isolation centre is a place where people who are ill with an infectious disease are separated from patients who are not ill.
“As such, a decision was taken to establish such a facility at Enmore, near to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The facility has been designed in strict compliance with international standards for infection control, waste management and air quality.
“The centre is nearing completion and is on stream to be ready and outfitted by November 1, 2014,” he said.
The Minister also assured, based on current information that the disease was only transmitted by close contact with a patient or their bodily fluids, and that the proposed centre did not pose any risk to persons in the vicinity.
The deadly disease, which has been reported in at least five countries, including the United States, has already claimed over 4,500 lives worldwide.
Boyce said the authorities were taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the island remains Ebola free.
In fact, he said Barbados’ Ebola preparedness was being closely monitored by the National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
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