One of this island’s top public health officials is today unexpectedly praising the Canadian government for issuing a travel advisory on Barbados regarding the messy sewage overflows along the south coast tourist belt.
The Canadian government, through the Public Health Agency of Canada, yesterday issued the safety and security warning, advising its residents to avoid the affected area.
“The south coast of Barbados, between Hastings and St Lawrence areas is experiencing an overflow of raw sewage due to a mechanical breakdown. Avoid the affected area and follow the instructions of local authorities,” the statement on the travel and tourism section of the government’s website stated.
However, while acknowledging the adverse impact the news abroad could have on Barbados as a tourism destination, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George was of the view that it was a wise move by the Canadians.
“It’s a responsible travel advisory,” the acting chief medical officer said. “It’s what we here have been telling Barbadians for the longest while, to be careful while traversing the affected area.”
Officials in the Ministry of Health and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) have also been urging motorists to slow down when driving through the affected areas in Hastings and Worthing to avoid splashing pedestrians with sewage water which may be flowing in the streets.
And as tourists to the island turn to social media to air their concerns about the issue, many Barbadians have said it was a matter of time before the industry begins to feel the effect.
While the Canadian authorities did not advise against travelling to Barbados, but simply to “take normal security precautions in Barbados”, industry officials and practitioners fear that Canadians will interpret it as an advisory against travel, posing a major challenge to the island’s tourism.
Local authorities will also be keeping an eye on other major markets like the United Kingdom and the United States, which earlier this afternoon also issued a health alert to its citizens travelling to Barbados in view of the sewage problems.
“There is an overflow of raw sewage due to mechanical failure on the island’s south coast that is affecting the water quality at certain beaches between the Hastings and St Lawrence Gap areas.
“Sewage has periodically bubbled up onto the streets, and there are reports that the overflow is reaching the beach areas,” the health alert issued on the US Embassy in Bridgetown’s website earlier today said while calling on US citizens to “avoid water activities in the affected areas” on the south coast between St Lawrence Gap and Hastings, and to “beware of sewage on the streets.
“If you come into contact with sewage, wash your hands, shoes, and any clothing that may have come into contact with the effluence. If you become seriously ill, seek medical attention,” the advisory states.
George is yet to respond to this latest development.