Minister of Health and Wellness Lt Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, has warned Barbadians against becoming complacent despite a four-day lull in confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus.
He revealed that a continued shortage of testing swabs, as well as a critical one week period in which persons entering the country were not being placed on mandatory quarantine, point to the possible existence of community spread, which is yet to be detected.
While touring a new Field Medical Facility (FMF) provided by the BDF to assist the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Bostic told reporters that no new cases had been detected from 35 tests conducted on Saturday. In fact, he revealed that two more recovered patients were set to be released from quarantine.
“This is the fourth straight day, but I want to urge the public that although this is indeed an encouraging sign, we are not yet out of the woods. We cannot take our guard down. We must continue with what we are doing. We are encouraged, but we know very well that there is no certainty as to whether or not we have cases out there in the community,” Bostic said.
“That is something that we are trying to find out on a daily basis and when we are able to get some more swabs into the country, we would expand further the number of persons tested on a daily basis, and that would give us a better idea. So, we still have a couple of weeks to go before we can say exactly where we are. But we are indeed encouraged by what we have seen.”
Bostic revealed that there is still a shortage of swabs for testing, but assured that an adequate amount would arrive later this week to be used with the “thousands” of testing kits already on the island, allowing more widespread testing to occur.
In addition to the shortage of testing swabs, the Health Minister responded to questions about persons who entered the country between March 15 and 22 from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Weeks ago, Barbados TODAY reported that such persons entering during that period were not being quarantined or asked to isolate themselves for the customary 14-day period. Since then, the Ministry of Health and Wellness made numerous appeals for such persons to report to local authorities.
In his most recent assessment, Bostic said efforts to trace the entrants had been going “quite well” and admitted that a “few people” who came forward, in fact, tested positive for the disease.
“We are still reaching out to those persons, still making every avenue available for persons to check in with us so we can be kept abreast of that situation. But we know within another two weeks or so, we would be in a very good position in terms of making some determinations where those persons are concerned based on the length of time they would have been on the island,” said Bostic.
“We have to continue working hard and I am proud of the team that is doing so and once we continue to do what we have to do and Barbadians continue to cooperate with us, I believe we will be able to arrest this situation.”(KS)