Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley is not sold on reports from Government and health officials that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is now under control. And he also believes that, in spite of the jargon being used by the health professionals, the virus is being spread in local communities.
With Barbados recording 84 cases on Monday, bringing the total confirmed cases on the island to 968 as of today, with 553 in isolation and contact tracing still being conducted, Atherley is questioning Government’s assurance that “we are in a better place”.
On January 5, during a COVID-19 update, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George said that the country was continuing to experience a spike in cases, however, the figures are trending downward from the initial surge at the end of 2020.
“I do not know how you say we are in a better place and in recent days they are talking that the thing is trending downwards when we had 70 cases on Saturday. This thing is still out there and I am not satisfied with how they handled it in the last six to seven weeks since the tourism numbers picked up. I don’t think that we are being cautious enough with the people coming in from England into Barbados especially with the fact that there is a more contagious variant of the virus knocking around in England,” Atherley told Barbados TODAY.
The Opposition Leader said he still strongly believes that there is a need to close the borders to flights from the United Kingdom, and ensure that the protocols for entry and quarantine are practical and enforced.
“I think we have shown in the last six to seven weeks that that has not been the case, hence the problem that we have. We don’t have anything under control, they are speaking the language to give Bajans a certain level of comfort. They are speaking the language that reflects them as a Government.
“But how can you have it under control and you have this spread out there? First, you blame the bus crawl, now we are hearing that there are four or five clusters, now we are hearing there are a couple more that we have not identified. There is one cluster that is suspected of contributing to 67 cases and the bus crawl had about 14 but yet we are willing to blame the bus crawl,” he said.
Atherley said he is now convinced that there is now community spread on the island, notwithstanding, the “jargon and language” being used by authorities. He said statistics are showing that COVID-19 cases are spreading from one person to the next in the community.
“They are using a lot of technical, medical, professional language. For me and for you and for most Barbadians there is community spread once it is out there spreading amongst people in the community.
“There are cases in St James, St Michael, Christ Church, isn’t it being spread in Barbados? Businesses are closing because they have identified people on their staff, who have been exposed, isn’t that not community spread?” he said. (AH)