Even as a sixth employee from the National Assistance Board (NAB) which provides home help to elderly folk has tested positive for the coronavirus, Senior Medical Officer Dr Anton Best said tonight he firmly believes that Barbados has passed the worst of the pandemic.
And he said he is expecting the pandemic to dissipate into a “smouldering epidemic” in the coming weeks.
He revealed that the 60-year-old female NAB worker was the lone positive test out of 88 conducted yesterday.
But speaking on CBC News Night, Dr Best said that based on estimates conducted by University of the West Indies (UWI) epidemiologists, Barbados has averted a “worst-case scenario”.
Six people have so far died from complications linked to COVID-19, among 80 people testing positive for the coronavirus from 1,751 tests conducted overall. So far 39 people have recovered from the illness.
In the past week, 688 tests have been conducted with only five positive tests being recorded.
Dr Best said:“Prior to our very first case of COVID-19, when we were in the preparation phase we did some studies with the UWI…and the numbers were quite shocking and rather disconcerting.
“We would have expected quite a few thousands of cases and quite a few hundreds of deaths in a very short period of time if Barbados did absolutely nothing. And the reason for that being is that you get an expediential rise in the number of new cases based on how contagious the disease is.
“What I can say is now that we actually have cases and can do trained analysis, we have averted the worst-case scenario, so we are not on target for an exponential rise.
“We’ve staved that off and what we think is likely to happen over the next few weeks and months is that we will have a smouldering epidemic and certainly that is something that is encouraging because it means that our public health care system is [working].”
On the most recent COVID-19 case, the NAB worker, Dr Best said comprehensive contact tracing had begun.
“What I can tell you is that the contact tracing process has started only today so we don’t have that information but we are paying very close attention to all of the contacts, her family, the situation at home and at work,” he pointed out.
On Saturday, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde revealed that five administrative employees from the NAB had tested positive for COVID-19.
It led to Government testing all 238 staff members of the NAB. A hotel was also leased to house the quarantined staff.
Forde said the first member of staff who contracted the virus from a close relative who came from overseas and tested positive several weeks ago is not a part of the field division but works exclusively at NAB’s Country Road, St Michael headquarters.