The quarantine centre set up at the St Lucy District Hospital as Barbados seeks to keep the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at bay, is no threat to the public, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kenneth George today assured.
“I wish to make it clear that persons who are placed in quarantine are not ill. No one exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent to the St Lucy District Hospital. The quarantine centre is for well persons who have arrived in Barbados after being in China during the previous 14 days,” he said in response to concerns expressed by residents of surrounding communities in another section of the press.
It was earlier this month that Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic announced in Parliament that the hospital would be retrofitted as a quarantine facility. The elderly residents at that district hospital were relocated to the Geriatric Hospital and the Psychiatric Hospital.
Unlike some of its Caribbean neighbours, Barbados has not placed a ban on travel to and from China. It has, however, stepped up surveillance at the island’s ports of entry.
According to George, travellers are screened and then placed in quarantine, either at home or at the centre, depending on the level of risk of exposure as determined by the public health officers. During the 14-day quarantine period, persons are monitored daily by public health nurses, and if anyone exhibits symptoms they would be immediately clinically assessed and transferred to the Isolation Centre at Enmore to be tested for COVID-19, Dr George stated.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer further explained that in order to be infected, a person would have to be in very close contact – within one to two metres – of someone exhibiting symptoms.
“No property within that district is near enough to be contaminated, if symptoms do occur,” he added.
Dr George also disclosed that the Ministry would be securing the entire compound with fencing and would continue to make sure that staff at the centre observe all the protocols established to ensure public safety.
There are no cases of COVID-19 in Barbados.
Most infections are in China, the epicentre of the virus, where 77,000 people have the disease and nearly 2,600 have died.
More than 1,200 cases have been confirmed in about 30 other countries and there have been more than 20 deaths outside China.
The World Health Organization today cautioned that the world should do more to prepare for a possible Coronavirus pandemic.