The worrisome COVID-19 cluster from a church in the north of the island has now spilled over into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) resulting in 85 security employees and a housekeeper being placed in quarantine.
On Monday, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Kenneth George told Barbados TODAY that the church cluster has the potential to “get away from us” because some contacts had either gone in “obscurity” or were refusing to come forward to be tested.
Dr George also confirmed that the ministry was investigating a more recent cluster at a testing facility involving a number of Cuban nurses.
Today, the QEH management issued a statement informing Barbadians that contact tracing had, last Friday, linked a positive case involving a security officer at the hospital to that church cluster.
“Arising out of this incident, phased COVID-19 PCR testing was started at the QEH on Saturday, April 17. To date, a total of 85 persons have been tested, from which there have been 10 positive results,” revealed the hospital.
“Furthermore, since Sunday, April 18, 2021, all 85 security personnel, along with the associated housekeeping staff member assigned to the security department, have been placed in quarantine,” the statement added.
The hospital management said these employees will be retested on April 22 and allowed to return to work once they have received two consecutive negative COVID-19 PCR test results.
“All security staff who have officially been cleared for work will resume duty on Saturday, April 24,” the QEH stated.
These officers will be required to undergo refresher training with the hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control Department led by Dr Corey Forde. The session will cover the necessity of mask wearing, how to wear masks correctly, physical distancing, protocols for reporting suspected illness, and how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection at work, during carpooling and in the community.
Steps will also be taken to sensitize staff to best practices at home, lunch rooms and in social spaces.
Meanwhile, A & C Security Services Limited has provided new staff to ensure continued security coverage to the QEH.
The QEH said it is making every effort to keep its staff fully trained and equipped to protect themselves and the patients and to remain safe as new waves of the virus continue across the world.
The hospital management said that in order to protect staff and patients, it had followed all protocols with regard to the quarantine and testing of other security personnel with whom the affected individual was in contact.
As in the case of previous positive staff members, deep cleaning was conducted of the work areas.
In that regard, the security office and communal spaces, such as the Security Department, lunch and restrooms, have already undergone this deep cleaning.
Last Friday, Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, appealed to persons associated with the church cluster to “come forward” and get tested for the virus.
He asked them to go to the Wildey Gymnasium testing site or one of the health care facilities to be tested, warning that if they delayed and do have symptoms, it could be detrimental to their health.
The minister disclosed that nine of the 12 positive cases recorded last Thursday were directly and indirectly related to the church cluster in the north.