The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to monitor the unfolding COVID-19 epidemic in the Caribbean, a senior official of the hemispheric health organisation said today.
So far, from the east to the west, the Caribbean has confirmed a total of 93 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) since its arrival in the region over 16 days ago. The viral illness has been reported in 22 Caribbean territories – Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Cayman Islands, Cuba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, St Martin and Saint-Barthélémy, Suriname, Curacao, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
PAHO has been working with Caribbean countries to ensure they can meet the challenge of dealing with possible importations of cases of the novel coronavirus.
In a series of technical cooperation activities, PAHO experts in laboratories, preparedness, epidemiology, clinical management, infection prevention and control, and other areas are supporting public health officials in various countries.
Dr Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, today handed over COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to the Barbados Defence Force Chief of Staff, Colonel Glyne Grannum, at the PAHO/WHO Office, Dayrells Road and Navy Gardens, Christ Church.
Dr Gebre said that while Caribbean countries were seeing an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections they were mostly imported cases, which makes for a good possibility of stopping transmission.
The PAHO official said: “The cases are increasing day by day, one good thing about our region is that almost all cases are imported cases and then they are sporadic, eventually a few countries may have local transmission – there is local transmission in the United States, Canada, Chile Panama – those kinds of countries, otherwise in the Caribbean from the north to the South it is the more sporadic imported cases… the exception being Jamaica where we have more local transmission taking place,”
The medical official pointed out that PAHO’s has been working closely with local and regional officials.
Dr Gebre explained: “We currently have 12 people distributed across the island, we have three people here and also met with the Minister of Health, officials and looked at the isolation sites and quarantine sites.
“From here they go to Antigua, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and some are in Dominica.”
In receiving the supplies, the Defence Force Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Grannum, said that PAHO was very instrumental in providing training, technical advice and other equipment for the field medical facility.
The BDF’s Paragon Base in Christ Church is one of three quarantine facilities and the army’s Field Medical Facility has also been set up to provide additional screening, quarantine and isolation services.
Colonel Grannum said: ” The equipment will be put to use not just within the Barbados Defence Force but alongside our interagency partners, the Ministry of Health, the nurses at ports of entry and indeed the nurses that are stationed at the quarantine facility and also in the field medical facility which is also being deployed.”
The personal protective equipment includes: gowns, face shields, N-95 respirators. masks and biohazards bags. When properly used by health care workers, it reduces transmission to health care workers and some of the kits can also be used by patients, Dr Gebre said. (IMC)