The Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) Thursday claimed that the Government’s measures were not far reaching enough to keep the disease at bay.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, PdP spokesman on health Paul Gibson contended that while Government is adhering to World Health Organization (WHO) standards, these measures do not go far enough.
He suggested that very little is known about the disease and this requires Government to err on the side of caution.
Gibson, a former president of the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society said: “The Government is using the safety protocols by the WHO and PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) but unfortunately when you listen to members of PAHO and WHO, they are actually saying that this virus is new and they don’t have a clue where it would go or what would happen.
“It is a virgin landscape for this virus and based on evolution we see adjustments being made to the algorithms on a regular basis.”
Gibson suggested that Government change its quarantine policy and commandeer more facilities for this purpose.
He also urged Government to reconsider its protocols for cruise ships with persons presenting with respiratory illness.
He also suggested that Government needed more stringent measures for persons coming from regions affected by the disease.
He continued: “We believe that serious consideration must be given to travellers coming from China and regions that are severely impacted.
“We believe that Government has been following the recommendations of WHO and PAHO very well but there is more that could be done to ratchet up the safety measures.”
Gibson was critical of the decision to allow AIDA cruise ship to dock at Bridgetown despite some passengers coming down with respiratory illness.
He added: “We believe that the highest possible standards should be used in the management of this pandemic and the bar should be high to protect Barbadians because you don’t want to say later that I wish I had.
“This virus can cause tremendous harm and we want to ensure proper management of sea to air passengers.
“We believe that there should be a significantly higher bar for travellers from the Chinese region.”
Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic had revealed that the quarantine policy was put to the test last weekend, as Barbados gave safe harbor to the AIDA, which was turned away by St Lucia and other OECS countries because some guests came down with respiratory illness.
Lt Col Bostic said: “When the cruise ship AIDA was here, some countries in the Caribbean denied entry but we did not.
“We based our decision on procedures and protocols and when port health went on the vessel which was carrying about 4,000 people, there were 40 people that were ill onboard including persons with gastroenteritis and other illness not related to the coronavirus.
“The numbers were way below the required number for quarantining a vessel.
“So, we took the decision to allow the vessel to dock and allow passengers to disembark but those ill passengers had to remain onboard.”
But the Health Minister acknowledged that a major outbreak of the illness in Barbados could be beyond the capabilities of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
He explained then: “When we did our analysis of the situation, we determined that the airport was the most vulnerable area because the international regulations governing cruise ships coming into ports of entry are very strong and we have been doing this for a very long time.
“These cruise ships have their own hospitals on board, their own medical staff, their own quarantine station and we get information on the cruise ship up to four hours before they arrive.
“Port health officials then go onboard and scrutinize the medical data so that we can make certain determinations.”