One of this country’s leading attorneys-at-law has revealed that the swab taken from him for COVID-19 analysis has gone missing.
Queen’s Counsel Barry Gale, who was making a case for an adjournment in a land deal matter before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today, informed the appellate judges that while he has the symptoms of the virus, he still cannot be certain if it is COVID.
“Yesterday I was informed by the person who conducted the test, who was attached to the Ministry of Health that they cannot find my swabs. What does that mean? It means I have to be tested again. As I speak to you, I do not know if I have COVID. I have experienced symptoms of COVID. Thankfully not extreme, but I have had headaches, I have had feelings of tiredness, I have had a sore throat, and quite frankly I am anxious,” Gale lamented.
The senior counsel said he was tested for the virus about a week ago, but has been “a prisoner “in his own home since December 31 after having self-isolated and that the wait for his results had also added to an uneasy state of mind.
“So I am in a state of limbo and in a state of stress,” the Queen’s Counsel told the CCJ panel of judicial officers.
And if that was not bad enough, Gale disclosed that his two children have been struck with the virus and the husband of a member of his staff has tested positive.
“My daughter has tested positive as of early January and is confined with her baby at Harrison’s Point. My son tested positive and he too is at Harrison’s Point. One of my staff, her husband is a prison officer…he tested positive,” Gale informed this country’s final court of appeal.
He said his office closed on December 18 for the Christmas season and could only reopen last Monday.
“I, of course, cannot go near my office, near my files, near my library and more importantly I cannot, except through the limited means of zoom communications, communicate with my co-counsel, my junior and the co-counsel representing the other respondents. This has put me at a significant disadvantage,” he stated.
Gale contended that as a result, he did not feel fully prepared nor was in a position to fully represent his client.
“And I am not sure you realize what is happening in Barbados…that I still have not got back my test results because the testing programme is in complete shambles. My test has been submitted about a week ago and I have not got back my results…and I am not alone…there are many others in my position,” he said.
After breaking for a short time to consider the submission for an adjournment, the judges granted a postponement of the start of the appeal hearing until March 16 to facilitate the possible isolation at Harrison’s Point of Gale for the 14-day stay and any other unforeseen issues.
When Barbados TODAY reached out tonight to Head of Government’s new COVID-19 Communications Committee Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, she promised to enquire into Gale’s situation with a view to bringing about a speedy resolution.
“We will have to enquire what is the position with Mr Gale, when it came in and so on. I would need information like his date of birth or passport or ID number, something that would allow us to be able to identify it; but only the lab can say that his sample is lost. But I don’t think he spoke to the lab and the lab would have said that,” Ambassador Thompson stated.
She however explained that the senior lawyer’s sample may have been tied up in the backlog of cases which the health authorities are doing everything possible to clear while trying to improve the overwhelmed system.
“We have apologized to everyone who is caught in this position. The problem is a problem of logistics which we are fighting to resolve to ensure that all the necessary resources are available and capacity is increased as a matter of urgency,” she pointed out.
Ambassador Thompson also said that staff and equipment were being put in place to improve the speed at which testing was conducted noting that between yesterday and today, some 902 tests were done.
She also stressed that calls to the call centre had skyrocketed from 1,700 per week to 31,000 per week between January 1st and 11th.