Chairman of the University of the West Indies (UWI) COVID-19 Task Force Professor Clive Landis has poured cold water on a suggestion from the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) that people arriving from medium and high-risk countries should be quarantined for 14 days.
Instead, Landis said he believed the current protocols in place were adequate.
In a release late Monday evening, BAMP said while tourism was the main income earner for the country and authorities are ensuring increasing air travel and associated benefits, they should make sure it did not jeopardize the health of residents in the long-term.
“We therefore, as medical practitioners, recommend . . . quarantining of persons tested on arrivals. We believe that all persons arriving from high and medium-risk countries, given the risk of contracting an infection on embarkation, during the flight or on disembarkation, must ideally still be quarantined for 14 days after arrival with daily monitoring for fever or any COVID-19 symptoms,” said BAMP.
The medical association also recommended the use of mobile reporting apps for daily reporting of temperatures and symptoms; mandatory testing of all travellers from medium and high-risk countries, to be subsidized by the travellers; the requirement of travel insurance to cover COVID-19-related health care; investment in mobile phone GPS-based contact tracing and tracking of visitors from high and medium-risk countries.
BAMP said it believed the relaxation on the limits for public gathering was “premature”.
“We recommend limiting gatherings to no more than 250 persons, with strict enforcement of the well-known safety measures of social distancing, provisions for hygiene and masks,” the association added.
However, responding to the recommendations, Landis said while he agreed with several of BAMP’s recommendation on limiting of public gathering numbers and the creation of an app, he did not agree with the suggestion to quarantine all passengers tested on arrival from medium and high-risk countries.
He explained: “Where I do not support the opinion of BAMP today is on the mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers coming from moderate countries such as Canada and the UK. The protocols in Barbados I think, are very well considered. So if you come from a high-risk country – and currently we are not open to the US but the protocols are there – if you come from a high-risk country you must test negative when you come, you must quarantine and [test] negative again after seven days. This is rigorous and appropriate for a traveller coming from a high-risk destination,” said Landis.
He was speaking on Tuesday night during the Caribbean Economic Forum, which was held under the theme Reviving Caribbean Tourism.
In relation to testing and quarantining, individuals are required to present a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel. Those without a negative test will be tested upon arrival and the public health measure taken would be based on the risk category of the country they are travelling from.
People arriving from a high-risk country with a valid negative test will be required to do another test within seven days while being monitored in quarantine.
Those arriving from a moderate risk country with a negative test will be allowed to leave the airport but will be monitored for seven days from arrival.
Landis, a professor of cardiovascular research, said: “I think that is appropriate for a traveller coming from a moderate risk destination.”
With Barbados and other regional destinations expecting to welcome cruise ship passengers by year end, Landis said the cruise ships would need to have their own protocols in place, as would countries.
“There is no doubt they are going to have to have their own laboratories on their ships so they can immediately test persons who are presenting with any symptoms, and have quarantine facilities on their ships before they can even start speaking in partnerships with destinations and we would have our protocols on the other hand to complement theirs,” he explained.
“We shouldn’t be too definite about what we say, there is a Caribbean cruise commission being formed that will work on these matters,” he added. [email protected]
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