A British national who is still awaiting his COVID-19 PCR test results after being in Barbados for over a week is calling on authorities to greatly improve the turnaround time for results, or advise travellers against coming to the island.
The visitor who has asked to be referred to as Chris, is crying out that it is unfair for tourists who have to spend thousands on plane tickets and accommodation, to have to wait days for results when they were promised they would receive them within 24 to 48 hours.
“This is a grim reality that tourists and business travellers alike are facing here in Barbados, people paying huge amounts to be stuck in their accommodation for the duration of their trips, and sometimes longer, and at a significant expense.
“Either testing on the island is greatly improved or the government should advise against travellers coming here altogether as the way things are being handled currently is immoral,” he said.
Chris, who told Barbados TODAY he had fallen in love with the island and has been coming since he was a teenager, accused tourism authorities of false advertising the turnaround time for test results as 48 hours when there are “huge” delays.
He said while his family arrived on the island on Tuesday, January 12, their second PCR test was booked for Thursday, January 14, but the entity responsible for carrying out the testing “did not bother to turn up” with no warning.
He explained that they then had to turn to another facility to come to them on Friday, January 15. They are still awaiting the test results almost 96 hours later.
The visitor said he has called and emailed the testing facility but has received no response.
He also indicated that he has been calling the Bes-Dos-Santos Laboratory to inquire whether his family’s results were at that location, but he was told to call back the entity responsible for carrying out the test.
“We paid a great deal for the test under the premise that turnaround times are approximately 24 to 48 hours. It has now been close to 100 hours since I have been tested which is misleading and false advertising.
“We are desperate to leave our accommodation, as we are currently paying to have a security guard at our villa whilst in quarantine amounting to US$135 per day, a government requirement. We are scheduled to leave the island on Saturday, January 23. At this point, we have now spent over half the trip in quarantine,” he said.
“To make matters more difficult, to return to the UK, we have been told that we need to provide an additional negative COVID-19 PCR test to be obtained no more than 72 hours prior to arrival back in the UK as per new COVID regulations. Failure to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test back in the UK results in a minimum £500 fine.
“Given these huge delays in the turnaround of test results on the island, I do not see how this is even remotely possible and it is likely, that we, and many other travellers, will be fined a great deal when returning home,” he added.
He said he was aware that authorities have issued an advisory informing travellers about the backlog of COVID-19 PCR tests at testing facilities which may impact how soon they receive their results.
The advisory also indicated that an update would be posted when the standard 24-48 hours turnaround time has been resumed and asked travellers to plan accordingly.
“I feel like no one is giving the correct information out. It is very misleading because people aren’t setting realistic expectations for travellers.
“My partner even sent an email to the Prime Minister [Mia Amor Mottley] and she responded very quickly, asking the Minister of Health [Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic] to help in some way. It has now been a week since I have arrived.
“I understand this is now a problem for a number of people who have arrived recently on the island. If I was just here for one week, I would have spent my entire time in quarantine,” Chris said.