Government’s COVD-19 Czar warns that while the country has been able to escape the dire effects from the coronavirus, and can claim to have contained it, one of the biggest tests is yet to come.
Richard Carter is cautioning that once the Mia Mottley Administration re-opens the country’s borders it is going to be a major step with major challenges.
“There were dire predictions from all corners about what would and could happen in Barbados. We have managed to avoid all of those,” Carter told Barbados TODAY. In April he quoted a best-case scenario model developed by the University of the West Indies epidemiologists in which they had predicted that a minimum 100 plus Bajans could die from the virus.
Carter had also explained that the projected figure of over 100 did not take into account a number of “exceptions” which could see the number of cases exploding.
Now he says that while Barbados has managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 due to the imposition of the public health measures and restrictions and the generally positive response of citizens, the real possibility of more imported cases looms large with the pending re-opening of borders.
“Our next biggest challenge will come when we re-open our borders and we see a significant influx of travellers from other countries. I do not anticipate any significant existing reservoir of COVID-19 in Barbados because of the extent of testing we have been doing. I think any such reservoir would have been identified by now,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“I think our next biggest challenge will be in relation to the challenge of importation. We have seen that this has happened in many countries that are ahead of us in terms of the trajectory of the epidemic that when they have opened up their borders they have seen an increase in imported cases,” Carter stressed.
Carter suggested that what Barbados does over the next month or two – whenever it makes the decision to re-open its borders – will have to be very carefully calibrated.
He said Barbados will be monitoring neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda, which opened its borders this week, to see how they fare.
“We will learn lessons from wherever lessons are to be learned, but we will make our own determination based on the public health advice and based on our reading of the situation in Barbados,” he added.
The Czar also reflected on this country’s journey from the identification of the first two cases in mid-March until now.
“I would say that we have essentially managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Barbados. That is obvious when one looks at what the statistical data we have available to us is showing,” Carter said.
The latest information released today by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) revealed that all of the 65 people tested yesterday were negative for the virus.
None of the four persons in isolation was released today. As a result, the number of people who have recovered remains at 81, with 92 confirmed cases, 87 recoveries and seven deaths. The country has completed some 5,812 tests up to yesterday.
Carter said the four people in isolation represent the lowest number since the country started recording cases back in March.
“We have also managed to maintain the cover in terms of equipment and the other resources that we need to deploy against COVID-19. So for example, we have not run out of test kits, we have not run out of personal protective equipment, we have not run out of all the other resources we need to deal with and fight COVID-19,” the Czar disclosed.
“The facilities that we have in terms of beds that we need for critical care or for regular care for COVID-19 have never been stretched beyond our capacity. So we have always had surplus capacity to manage cases. So all of those things tell you that we have managed to contain COVID-19,” Carter stated.
He also reported that the health care system has not been overwhelmed or threatened with being overwhelmed as happened in many other countries much better endowed than Barbados.
“But we are by no means out of the proverbial woods because we still have live cases…four. We are testing every day and therefore there is always the possibility that one or more of those tests could turn out positive, adding to the numbers,” Carter told Barbados TODAY.
The COVD-19 Czar praised Barbadians generally for adhering to the protocols while condemning the “handful” who flout them.
“I continue to get reports daily of persons who are not obeying the protocols either in respect of mini-buses, either in respect of funerals, in respect of social gatherings, in respect of bars. But those have not been the majority. The majority of Barbadians need to be complimented for adhering to the protocols,” Carter said.
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