While Barbadians have been calling on the Government to make it mandatory for travellers to Barbados to arrive with negative COVID-19 test results, Prime Minister Mottley has suggested that implementing such a rule would not be so easy.
Speaking during a press briefing to address mounting concerns about a sharp jump in COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Mottley blamed a significant demand for testing in several countries for making it difficult to access COVID-19 tests in a timely manner.
Mottley explained that she spoke to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York about four weeks ago about the possibility of Barbados establishing a testing facility in the American state in order to be able to test passengers before they board flights to Barbados.
But Cuomo maintained that the ability for labs in the US to return COVID-19 test results within 72 hours is severely compromised, and “at that time, national labs were taking six and seven days to give back people results”, she told journalists.
The Prime Minister added: “Even if we tested 24 hours before, there would be a risk for the 24 hours. And that is why our team here, and I want to commend them for it, strongly recommended that the Government of Barbados, for high-risk countries, will test within seven days of arrival to Barbados, because that period of risk between when you tested and when you reach here, that we recognize that the incubation period between two to six days may mean that even if you have a negative result, that you can have a positive within two to six days of your exposure.
“That is why Minister [of Health Lt Col Jeffrey] Bostic, and Minister [of Tourism Senator] Lisa Cummins, are at home this week, because their exposure, and even though they have tested negative, the CMO [Dr Kenneth George] is saying give it another day or two in order to complete the full seven days. Now we do that recognizing that this is the best way to manage risk.”
Prime Minister Mottley also stressed that airlines globally have also made it clear that they are not taking responsibility for testing passengers.
She told journalists: “Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that if there are deficiencies on that side of the equation before people come here, let us correct the deficiencies on our side of the equation when people land here. We don’t have control over there, but we have control on this side. So I hope that that better explains to people why we cannot make mandatory requests, if we did, we would effectively be back in April and May.
“Our economic revenue, in the first two months of this fiscal year, declined by 31 percent, and you would hear the Governor of the Central Bank this afternoon, as the performance of the economy in the second quarter which was also weak. Now in spite of the fact that we have had twenty-five hundred, three thousand people come in the month of July, how many cases have we had?
“And let us be clear, this Government is at half term, so I already see the beginnings of those who believe that the silly season can start early. But I hope that when they are starting the silly season, that they remember that if they don’t wrap themselves in the flag, that all they are going to do is to make it bad for everyone and not just themselves and if you need to lift yourself up by tearing down the country, then we have a problem.”