Barbadians can expect to see changes to the management of hurricane shelters this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at this morning’s 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Press Conference, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best said the Ministry of Health and Wellness has been working closely with the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) to ensure protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be practised even at the shelters.
“We have factored in COVID-19 and what we plan to mitigate in terms of the management of the shelters. For instance, when you come to a shelter you have to be registered upon entry. So part of the registration process will entail a health screen.
“So you will be asked if you have any symptoms in keeping with COVID, whether it is shortness of breath, whether it is a cough, upper respiratory track symptoms, fever, and then some of the other unusual symptoms that are associated with COVID-19. And you will also have your temperature taken to determine if you are possibly suffering from COVID-19. So, you have a history and then that assessment as part of the registration process,” he said.
Dr Best said it will be mandated that the social distancing protocol be factored into the capacity at the shelters and “then of course how you keep families apart within the shelters”. He noted that persons at the shelters will also be required to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.
“Those are things that we want to ensure are maintained and practised within the shelters and we would have also heard from the Director of DEM Kerry Hinds about the isolation of persons who are ill and that is a standard practice in terms of shelter management. [If someone goes to the shelter with a temperature, that person is isolated.
“If it is not feasible to get that person to a health-care facility to get that person assessed and managed the person would be admitted [to the shelter] but isolated and the same goes for a person is already admitted but then they become sick, there is always a section within the shelters for isolation.”
“We also recommend the use of fabric face covering so when you come to the shelter you must have your fabric face covering on and you must have a change of fabric face covering. Two other things that we recommend that you bring the list of things that you bring with you is fabric face covering and hand sanitizer,” he said.
Dr Best explained that if a weather system approached the island those persons in Isolation at Harrison Point will remain there, those in quarantine at Paragon, Christ Church and the St Lucy District Hospital will also be required to stay.
However, Dr Best said persons quarantined at home will only stay if they are not deemed vulnerable since they have to await the completion of the 14 day quarantine process, which starts from the day of exposure.
“And just a reminder those are persons who are not sick,” Dr Best said. (AH)
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