Every citizen and resident of this island should be justly proud of our success in wrestling the new coronavirus (COVID-19) to the ground, and can boldly announce that for more than a month there has been no confirmed case of the disease on the island and all those who were in isolation being treated for the illness have recovered.
At the same time, we acknowledge that of the 97 cases diagnosed, 90 have recovered. But despite the best efforts of our dogged healthcare professionals, there were seven souls could not be saved from the illness. Their deaths are a grim reminder that this disease is a ruthless killer and should not be toyed with.
When one examines the profile of people here who became infected with the highly contagious respiratory illness, they ranged from ages seven to 95 and were males and females, blacks and whites, locals and visitors, politician and ordinary citizen.
It could have been much worse were it not for the heroism of our frontline workers, medical teams, public health officials, border control ad law enforcement officers, political leaders – all who made the critical decisions. And of course, our population acted maturely in the face of an extremely difficult situation when tens of thousands of workers lost their main source of income.
It certainly is an enviable position for a small, developing country like ours to be able to put to the world; we have managed this health crisis so far by being sensible, while at the same time showing care for others who were also ravaged by the global pandemic. For certain, our partners in the international cruise industry will remember the name Barbados for compassion, generosity and quiet competence.
As we swell with pride at what we have accomplished, let us not get ahead of ourselves. We must dampen the urge to display a level of hubris because we have been able to do what many with greater resources are struggling to achieve.
Dr Kenneth Connell, a senior lecturer in clinical pharmacology at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, offered a sober reminder during a recent television call-in programme. The medical professional and academic warned that among the main reasons the country has achieved the COVID-19-free status was our decision to close the country’s borders to international travel.
He has made it quite clear that once Barbados reopens to international travel, which is scheduled to occur from next month, it is not a matter of if we will get more COVID-19 cases but when. Dr Connell’s prescription to the country is simple: do not let our guard down. We must not get carried away in the euphoria of our new-found status because COVID-19 is still around and it has not become less aggressive or infectious.
The medical professional’s advice should be adhered to because, for the foreseeable future, Barbadians will have to learn how to live with this killer among us.