Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best sought to clarify COVID Czar Richard Carter’s declaration that the pandemic had reached the state of “community spread”, suggesting instead that “community transmission” is occurring.
Dr Best’s statement comes nearly week after the Czar’s declaration last week led many to conclude there were potentially several infected people in the Barbadian community.
But the chief medical officer told journalists after the Prime Minister’s meeting with the Social Partnership that by World Health Organisation (WHO) standards Barbados is not at the “community spread” level but rather is at the “containment” stage.
He explained: “At the time the statement was made we had two cases which we did not have an epidemiological link so from a layman’s perspective you can use the term community transmission really meaning that you cannot explain where those persons got it from.
“However, I would caution us going forward simply because the WHO [World Health Organisation] has a more strict definition of community spread, a more scientific definition where they say large numbers of persons for who you cannot attribute or for who you cannot give an explanation as to why they have it and that is certainly not the case in Barbados.
“The reason why I am cautioning it is because it is an entire category but we are not at the category in Barbados. We are at the category of containment in terms of describing the epidemic in Barbados.”
The Prime Minister had earlier disclosed that an additional 45,000 testing kits were now on the island. In addition, there was an undisclosed number of swabs and more than 5,000 extraction kits.
Dr Best said Barbados had done much more testing in recent weeks, even as only a minuscule proportion of the population has been tested for the presence of coronavirus – just over one per cent.
“We are constantly looking we would have talked about the trends in Barbados how the rate of detection of cases has come down,” he told journalists. “We have increased the rate of testing so we even started to look more assuming that it may be out there we only have four cases right now that we are actively doing contact tracing .”
In an interview published in another section of the media, Czar Carter declared there was “community spread” of the COVID-19 disease.
Carter said: “I think the statements that were made were quite clear. We define community spread as a situation where we had a case that we could not link to an index case. A case that was unlinked. We had at the time that I spoke two such cases.
“Therefore, by definition, we had two cases that we could not identify and therefore those constituted community spread. We must not take it out of proportion because if those two cases suddenly remembered where they had been and came forward then that does not constitute community spread. We don’t have any evidence of significant numbers of the population coming down with COVID that we have been unable to identify”.
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