The reduction in the number of positive COVID-19 cases on the island in the past few weeks could be tied to the fact that significantly fewer persons are being tested.
That admission has come from Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George, who said the reluctance of Barbadians to come forward was one of the main reasons for the reduction in numbers.
He said the Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health and Wellness had picked up the substantial drop off and is monitoring the situation.
There are currently three testing sites; Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic and the Branford Taitt Polyclinic.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Dr George said health authorities were implementing initiatives to be able to conduct more widespread testing.
“So the testing has declined we believe for many reasons. People are probably more in the vaccine mode than in the testing mode and persons may be scared to get a positive result, but we need to test more.
“We have found that the levels of testing are decreasing and that is why we did community-based testing and we continue to do it. It is only at this level we go into communities and do testing to encourage people because they are not coming forward in their numbers as before to be tested.”
A review of the number of tests conducted within the last week confirmed the CMO’s concerns.
Between March 16 and March 23, only 3527 tests were conducted at the Best dos Santos Laboratory, resulting in 124 positive tests. Those figures represent a positivity rate of around 3.5 per cent, well below the benchmark of five per cent.
During the period, the highest number of tests carried out on any given day was last Wednesday when 573 tests were performed.
Those figures pale in comparison to the number of tests that were carried out during the month of January when the country experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases, which led to the eventual lockdown from February 3 to 28.
On January 7, 2004 tests were conducted which yielded 37 positive cases; on January 8, 1431 tests were conducted of which five new cases were identified; on January 9, 23 positive cases were recorded out of 1400 tests; on January 6, there were 51 new positive cases from 1164 tests, while between January 3 and 4, 3062 tests were carried out with 86 new cases being recorded.
Just over a week ago the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) raised concerns over the low number of daily tests being conducted.
They claimed it did not paint an accurate representation of the country’s COVID-19 situation.
BAMP said health authorities should be testing between 1000 to 2000 persons every day.
“Ultimately, it just feels like we couldn’t get testing levels where we wanted them to be and on this occasion, if you compare it to last year… obviously, we didn’t have as much infection roaming around and it just feels like we had some unfinished business,” Dr. Broome-Webster, the public relations officer said during an interview with Barbados TODAY.
“I heard the Government promised comprehensive testing in communities but yet we are still seeing relatively low numbers on a day-to-day basis which is something I believe the Ministry of Health and Wellness is aware of and trying to improve. But we need to get those numbers up so that we can really see what is happening in our communities.”