The Ministry of Health has been receiving reports of patients leaving COVID-19 quarantine facilities without permission, prompting Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Kenneth George to warn that anyone who flouts the regulations will be punished.
“I wish to issue a strong warning to everyone who has been placed in quarantine in Barbados that this practice will not be tolerated, and when identified, abusers will be brought before the courts and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he cautioned.
People in quarantine are prohibited from leaving the facility, receiving visitors, or mixing with members of the public. Those in breach in any of those stipulations will, on summary conviction, be subject to a fine of $50 000, imprisonment for one year, or both.
“It has been drawn to the attention of the Ministry of Health and Wellness that a number of persons who have been ordered into COVID-19 quarantine have been breaching that order,” Dr George said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“The Ministry has received at least four recent reports of persons, both locals and visitors to the island, leaving the approved quarantine facility without the permission of the Chief Medical Officer.”
Dr George stressed that quarantine is a means of “separating persons from the general population who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but who are not showing signs of disease”.
“It is mandatory for all persons arriving in Barbados from countries categorised as high risk to go into quarantine for a period of four to five days from the receipt of their first valid negative COVID-19 PCR test. At the end of the period, they are retested and if they continue to be negative for the virus are discharged from quarantine,” he said.
The acting CMO pointed out that the practice of quarantine is a well-accepted public health measure to control and limit the spread of disease.
“Barbados has been very successful so far in keeping COVID-19 out of our general population, due in no small measure to the cooperation and responsible behaviour of residents,” he said.
“I appeal to both residents and visitors to our shores to continue to adhere to the public health protocols in place to ensure the well-being of everyone, and to report any breaches of these protocols that come to your attention,” Dr George added.