The island’s legislators debated the Remote Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 this week in order to extend the Welcome Stamp initiative.
The initiative, which was hailed as a success by Government, is one positive that has come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased that Government is continuing the programme with a few amendments to the pay structure.
Once news of this hits the global market, we suspect that more people will apply with the hopes of living and working in beautiful Barbados.
But before we usher in these new applicants, we have to get our house in better order.
Sadly, as we celebrated this accomplishment Wednesday when the Upper House debated, voted and finally signed off on it, we also got some not so positive news in other quarters.
That same day, Minister of Health Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic told the media that some people seeking to enter our country are falsifying COVID-19 test results and producing fake vaccine certificates.
Bostic told Barbados TODAY: “Yes, we have been seeing this [forged vaccination certificates]. We have been seeing false test results as well, and things coming from labs that we do not approve.”
He added: “Our team at the airport, they are very vigilant and they have demanded that persons coming in, either with vaccine certificates or test results that we do not recognize, that they be tested and go through the normal procedures at the airport. So, we know this is an issue but we are trusting our team at the airport to continue to do the very vigilant job they are doing.”
This is shameful and dishonest behaviour. We are not naïve. We know that in a world filled with technology, people can do almost anything —from fake passports and credit cards to identity theft. But, the forging of documents related to COVID-19 could be a matter of life or death.
We condemn the fact that some are so selfish and uncaring that they would put the lives of others at risk to be granted entry into a small country with limited financial resources to fight the pandemic.
The unfortunate news from our Health Minister was revealed on the same day that the Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George lamented that businesses, churches and families were recording the largest COVID-19 clusters.
He said: “We would like to warn Barbadians that the major areas of concern for the Ministry of Health continue to be places of worship and business houses. In addition to that, families are of concern. We have some large families…over 10 individuals living in very close proximity to each other…and obviously there is movement within families, so there is spread of the virus.”
One day later, on Thursday, the international Press broke the news that there was a positive case of COVID-19 at Kensington Oval. That case caused the postponement of the second One-Day International match between West Indies and Australia in the three-match series.
It was reported elsewhere that the West Indies team manager was the person who tested positive. No further details were given about that development.
Interestingly, the cricket at the Oval was operating within a bubble. So much so, that some local media were not allowed to attend to bring live, ball-by-ball coverage of the game.
Sometime later on Thursday, we also learned that there were three workers who tested positive at the Grantley Adams International Airport. Reports indicate they were part of the greeting process at the airport.
Also, on Wednesday, we heard 10 new cases were recorded from tests done on Tuesday while on Thursday there were 17 from tests done on Wednesday – a total of 27 new cases in two days.
But we are not alarmed. We are not panicking. We have come to understand and accept that the COVID-19 environment is highly unpredictable.
However, when our health officials come to the nation to state findings that are potential problems, we also want to be reassured by them outlining the plan of action. We would like to see more proactive measures rather than the damage control approach.
Like Government, we the citizens do not want another lockdown. After all, we suffer the most – mentally, financially and emotionally. But, in order to ensure we do not go back to that place, we need to know the plan for tackling these issues that have been brought to our attention over the past two days.